Assisting Wrongful Death Victims in Atlanta with Recovering Monetary Compensation for Their Personal Injuries
Atlanta is a busy city. Among the usual traffic, the tourist attractions (like the Georgia Aquarium and the Center for Civil and Human Rights), big employers (like Delta Air Lines and Emory University), retail establishments, and even government buildings and private residences, incalculable hazards can lead to serious injury, or in some cases, even death.
If you’ve lost a loved one in Atlanta due to someone else’s careless and reckless actions, we understand your pain. We know there’s no way to bring back what’s been lost or fill the void left by that person.
However, you should know there is a way to financially recover. You deserve to be reimbursed for the expenses you have incurred from the death, and you can obtain compensation for the enormous impact the loss has had on your life.
Stewart J. Guss and his team of compassionate Atlanta wrongful death attorneys are proud to serve as advocates for our neighbors currently grappling with the loss of a loved one. We can help you obtain justice.
We are a national law firm with multiple offices around the country, including Atlanta. We also work with affiliate law firms in most states that share our focus and dedication to excellence. No matter where you are located, we may be able to help you, so call or contact us now. We are open, for FREE, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-898-4877, or you may contact us now by CLICKING HERE to submit your case for review.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Georgia statutes define a wrongful death as the death of a person caused by the negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal acts of another.
A wrongful death claim is a legal process filed in civil court by eligible family members of the deceased to recover damages relating to the death.
By law, those who are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse
- If there is no surviving spouse, then the deceased’s children can file the claim
- If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the parents of the deceased or a representative of the deceased’s estate can file the claim. Damages recovered on behalf of the deceased’s estate will be provided to the next of kin.
Obtaining a successful outcome in a wrongful death claim requires the ability to prove that someone else’s actions led to the death.
Wrongful death lawyers attempt to prove liability by demonstrating the following:
- The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. The duty of care depends on the specific circumstances of the case. For example, the duty of care owed by an at-fault driver in a traffic accident would be to operate one’s motor vehicle safely and legally. The duty of care in a fatal slip and fall case would be for the property owner to keep the property in good repair and free of hazards. In a case involving an intentional act, such as an assault, the duty of care would be to behave legally and with respect to the safety of the other person.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach is the action that the at-fault party took that was contrary to the duty of care owed.
- This breach resulted in the accident or incident which caused the deceased’s death.
Generally, wrongful death claims in Georgia must be filed within two years after the date of the death. In some cases, this time limit may vary. For example, claims against governmental agencies require a shorter timeline and a slightly different process. Circumstances can also result in the statute of limitations being extended, such as in cases where the deceased’s estate has not been probated, or where the at-fault party is undergoing a criminal case as well.
Often, a wrongful death process will be paused until the estate is probated or the criminal case has concluded. Your attorney will advise you if there is a reason why you have less or more time to file your claim.
The Types of Deaths that Can Result in a Wrongful Death Claim
Nearly any activity can result in death. However, not all deaths are considered wrongful.
Some of the accidents or acts that could result in a wrongful death claim include:
- Motor vehicle accidents. Traffic-related accidents involving cars, motorcycles, commercial trucks, pedestrians, or bicycles are the cause of around 1,500 deaths in Georgia each year. Many of these accidents are the result of human error. Common examples include speeding, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, fatigued driving, distracted driving, or failing to yield the right-of-way. While a motorist is usually the source of liability in a traffic accident, liable parties in a fatal accident also include those agencies tasked with maintaining the roadway, the manufacturer or distributor of defective parts, business establishments who knowingly served alcohol to a minor or to someone who was already visibly intoxicated and who—upon leaving the establishment—caused a fatal traffic accident.
- Premises liability accidents. Premises liability is an area within the umbrella of personal injury law that deals with the responsibility of a commercial, public, or private property owner or manager to keep his or her property free from hazards that can cause injury or death. Examples of fatal premises liability accidents include slip and fall accidents, failure to provide adequate security on the premises, swimming pool accidents, accidents involving escalators or elevators, fires, and toxic exposure. Of these claims, the most common is a slip and fall case, as falls are one of the leading causes of accidental death.
- Intentional or criminal acts. Intentional acts include physical assault, assault with a weapon, domestic violence, and child abuse. Intentional and criminal acts often lead to an arrest, a criminal trial, and even a conviction. Although the two often arise from the same circumstance, the criminal process is separate from the civil wrongful death claim. The criminal process is undertaken by the government on behalf of the municipality, state, or even the nation if the charges are filed in federal court. Meanwhile, the civil process is undertaken by family members or a representative of the deceased’s estate. Criminal cases involve proving that a law has been broken and that a person is guilty of violating that law. If found guilty, the person is then punished by the government through incarceration, fines, and other measures. The civil process seeks to prove liability and expenses. The purpose of this process is for the loved ones of the deceased to recover damages once they prove liability.
Recoverable Damages in Atlanta Wrongful Death Claims
Georgia allows the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages in wrongful death claims.
Economic damages refer to out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the death, such as the loss of wages and benefits, including recovery of the amount the deceased would have reasonably earned through the remainder of his or her career, had they lived.
The estate can also recover expenses related to the death, including medical expenses incurred during the treatment of the deceased’s final injury or illness. Expenses related to the deceased’s funeral and burial or cremation can also be included in the wrongful death lawsuit.
Non-economic damages refer to the impacts the death has caused in the lives of loved ones. Some common non-economic damage claims found in Atlanta wrongful death cases include loss of care, companionship, and other benefits that the deceased provided to his or her family members. Non-economic damages that can be claimed by the state include conscious pain and suffering experienced by the deceased in the time between his or her final injury and death.
Economic damages are fairly simple to calculate, as they represent the out-of-pocket expenses for which there are bills, invoices, pay stubs, or other information that can be provided by the deceased’s employer. Non-economic damages are harder to calculate and usually require an experienced lawyer to fully determine.
This total is then added to the amount of economic damages for the value of the case. The more reckless the actions were that resulted in the death, and the more pain and suffering the deceased was subjected to between the time of the injury and the subsequent death, the higher the multiplier.
It is not unusual for cases to be valued higher for certain groups of people than it is for others. This is not due to placing a higher value on one person’s life over another’s, but rather a reflection of the types of damages that are collected in cases like these. For example, a person in the midst of their career would likely have a higher compensable amount of economic damages in the damage categories of lost wages and estimated future lost wages than a child, a person with little work experience, or a retired person who is no longer earning an income.
The truth is there is no average settlement when it comes to wrongful death cases. The value of each case is determined by the unique circumstances of that case. It is your attorney’s job to pursue the highest amount of compensation available to you based on the facts of your case.
Factors that can impact your case’s value include:
- Any responsibility that the deceased had toward the cause of the accident or incident that led to his or her death.
- The number of beneficiaries represented in the case, as the settlement or award amount will be divided among these recipients.
- The overall health of the deceased before the accident or incident occurred, as information about health conditions will often be used by the insurance company to attempt to lessen the liability of their insured.
- Your level of patience. Probating your loved one’s estate takes time. Negotiating settlements and preparing for litigation takes time. The courts are often overcrowded, leaving claimants waiting to schedule a trial date for months. Often, the best settlement offers in cases like this come either just before the case goes to trial or even after the trial has begun, but before a judgment is given. That is because one thing that insurance companies hate even worse than paying out on claims is paying for a lengthy litigation process!
How an Experienced Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help You
Can an experienced Atlanta wrongful death lawyer make the difference in your case? Without a doubt, yes. The compassionate and knowledgeable legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, can provide you with results that would be impossible to duplicate on your own.
Some of our services include:
- Information about the legal process involved in a wrongful death claim and guidance as to whether this legal option is available to you in your case.
- A careful examination of the facts of the accident or incident that led to your loved one’s death to determine all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be accessed to compensate you. Because insurance is how the vast majority of the settlements and awards in wrongful death cases are paid, it is important to determine the limits of each policy available to ensure that there is enough to fully compensate you for your damages.
- A proper valuation of your case that takes into consideration all of the damages you have incurred both economically and through life impacts as the result of your loved one’s death.
- Timely filing of court-required paperwork at the proper jurisdiction. Wrongful death lawsuits generally must be filed within two years after the death for the claim to be valid.
- The collection of evidence and deposition of witnesses who can help prove and strengthen your case.
- Skilled negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company to obtain the best settlement possible for you.
- In lieu of a fair settlement offer, litigation including the delivery of opening and closing statements, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
- Further representation if the defendant in your case appeals the jury award.
The vast majority of wrongful death cases, like other civil lawsuits, are settled before they reach the courtroom. However, you still need an attorney who is equally comfortable and confident with either method: settlement through negotiation, or, if necessary, obtaining compensation on your behalf before the court via litigation. Choose our Atlanta wrongful death lawyers to help you navigate this process.
Call Our Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorneys for Help Today
If you lost a loved one in Atlanta due to the careless, reckless, or intentional acts of someone else, our compassionate wrongful death attorneys are ready to talk to you about your case and your legal options.
We are nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. If your loved one died a preventable death Atlanta, call our office right now for a free consultation! Because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by CLICKING HERE.
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