If you have lost a loved one all too soon and believe it was due to the negligence of another, our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys can help you discover the proper road to recovery, beginning with a free consultation. We know how hard it is to lose a loved one, especially in unpredictable circumstances, which is why we offer more than legal representation; we provide compassion and integrity to help you hold the negligent party responsible so you and your family can begin to heal without delay.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death suits were originally created to provide for the widowed spouse, and orphaned children of the person who passed away, thereby motivating individuals to practice care and prevent injuries. Each of these proceedings is a matter of civil law, and is completely separate from criminal law, having no bearing on the outcome of the latter. Likewise, the criminal case does not interfere with the civil proceedings.
Wrongful death is the act of taking the life of another as the result of willful or negligent acts. In some cases wrongful death suits are the result of medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, product liability and criminal acts. However, mass transportation companies including airlines, trains and bus operators can be named as negligent parties in each case, if the accident that caused the loss of a loved one was the result of their dereliction of safety requirements.
Statute of Limitations in the State of Georgia
At The Marks Law Group, LLC, our wrongful death attorneys have a significant amount of experience in successfully handling these cases from beginning to end, helping our clients receive the benefits they deserve as a result of losing someone they loved.
In the state of Georgia the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death case is two years, so it is important that you contact our office immediately upon the loss of your loved one. We understand that you need time to cope with the cause of their death, and also need time to grieve as a result. However, the earlier we can help you through this difficult time, the more successful you are likely to be in recovering a financial settlement from the responsible party.
Who Collects in a Wrongful Death Case?
Our Atlanta attorney group excels in Georgia state law, which allows us to provide an excellent pool of resources for our clients to benefit from during these difficult cases. In the state of Georgia, the survivors of the deceased may file a case against the negligent party, and receive the financial settlement the court awards as a result. Survivors include parents, spouses, children, and in a case where none of those individuals exist, the claim can fall to the administrator of the deceased’s estate regardless of their relationship.
Wrongful death cases require a skilled and experienced attorney to prove negligence as described by the deceased’s family members or estate. Our attorneys work tirelessly to compile the evidence necessary to prove negligence, including accident reconstruction, interviews with witnesses and professionals in each area of concentration where the death occurred, and statements from the family to understand the financial loss and future needs that accompany the death of the loved one in question. We can help you discover the proper course of action to pursue the negligent party in a wrongful death case, so you and your loved ones can move forward with your lives and focus on healing fully.
If you have lost a loved one in what you believe to be a wrongful death scenario, call our attorneys today to discuss your case during a free consultation, so we can provide you with the best guidance available. Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys are available to discuss your circumstances now at 404-939-1485.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Wrongful Death Law?
Wrongful death is a civil action for the death of another individual. It can be brought on behalf of anyone, whether an infant or a great-grandparent. A wrongful death action involves two different causes: the estate of the deceased individual and the beneficiaries of that estate. The actions do not have to be brought at the same time, but because the two causes of action are almost identical, they often are.
What Compensation Can the Family Receive?
A one-size-fits-all formula for what can be recovered cannot be applied to wrongful death case. If a wrongful death action has been filed on behalf of an infant, the recovery available will be very different from that available in suit brought on behalf of an adult.
A family can receive:
- Compensation for emotional loss
- Economic damages, such as lost wages
- Non-economic damages, which include plans, expectations, and hopes, though highly speculative
Economic damages are one of the biggest factors in a wrongful death action, which is why a blanket monetary figure cannot be placed on all suits. For example, a 30 year old adult who has a full-time job earning $50,000 a year would have to work until they were 65 years old or chose to retire. This potential to earn a living is one of the factors taken into account when calculating damages.
In the case of a young person, such as a five year old, economic damages will be much harder to prove. A five year child does not work, nor has the child explored career options, or started attending school. As a result, claiming lost wages would be speculative as the child did not earn any income.
Most of the time, in a wrongful death claim, an adult’s life is “worth” more than a child’s life. This is counter-intuitive and may seem harsh, but it is based on the amount of recovery available to those suing on behalf of the deceased individual. An adult who has a career and is earning an income is valued more highly under the law in this instance.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
OCGA Section 5142 has a list of priority for whom can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Under this list, the surviving spouse is the first to be able to bring the claim. If there is no surviving spouse, then the decedent’s children will be able to sue. However, if there are no children, the suit could be brought by the decedent’s next closest relative – perhaps a sibling – or the administrator of the decedent’s estate.
The administrator of the estate will appoint an attorney to help probate the estate, and it is the administrator who will acknowledge that the relative bringing the lawsuit is a beneficiary of the decedent’s estate.
At this stage, to bring the claim, the individual who will be a beneficiary in the action will engage a wrongful death attorney, who will pursue the beneficiary’s wrongful death action on behalf of the beneficiary.
Sometimes issues may arise in probating the estate, including tax issues or family resentments. There may also be control issues, especially if there are many relatives involved in the wrongful death claim.
It sometimes happens that a relative may approach a wrongful death attorney about pursuing an action, but may not actually have the authority to do so under the law (i.e. they are not a beneficiary of the decedent’s estate). In that situation, the attorney will be unable to bring the case.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney?
While filing a wrongful death suit will not bring the deceased individual back to life, hiring a skilled and experienced attorney can help:
- Holding a person accountable for the actions that caused the loved one’s death.
Other issues include:
- Tort law, because someone’s negligence caused the wrongful death
- Estate law, because the deceased individual’s estate must be probated
- Probate law, because people often do not make wills before they die, so beneficiaries and assets of the individual’s estate are unclear
- Family law, because the deceased individual may have been divorced and had children that may not be qualified to pursue a wrongful death action (ie. stepchildren or adopted children)
- Ensuring success in a wrongful death claim – Hiring a wrongful death attorney will increase your chances of prevailing in your wrongful death claim. However, it is important to remember that an attorney cannot guarantee a positive outcome. He or she can only advocate strongly for your interests.
- An attorney can either negotiate a settlement with the individual who caused the death of the loved one, or the attorney can pursue litigation to get a jury verdict.
- It is important to note that pursuing a wrongful death action in court, or negotiating with an insurance company, is not something one should do on their own. A wrongful death lawyer has knowledge of the law and the issues involved, and will have experience handling these types of claims.
What to Look For in an Attorney:
- Experience in handling wrongful death actions
- Willingness and ability to communicate with and work with clients frequently
- Ability to see the big picture of the entire wrongful death action process
Can Negligent Security Be the Cause of a Wrongful Death?
Sometimes a person is killed due to a company’s negligence in hiring security personnel. Many bigger stores will hire a third party security company that may not adequately train their personnel. Some of the personnel can often be overzealous and seriously injure, disable, or even kill individuals who they think are stealing from the store.
Additionally, hospitals and nursing homes can also have a role in wrongful death actions. When a loved one is brought to a nursing home or another type of healthcare facility, they will often sign an arbitration agreement.
This agreement means that if something were to happen to the individual due to the negligence of the facility, the right to bring a claim will be severely limited by the agreement. Instead of being able to sue in court, the claim will have to be brought in front of an arbitrator who tends to be very “defendant-friendly.” It is best to not sign a document with this type of agreement.
The benefit of bringing a wrongful death action
- Help to ensure that no one else is harmed or killed in the same way;
- Recover damages for your loss and emotional trauma;
- Hold a negligent party responsible.
Why Choose Marks Law Group
The Marks Law Group is a small law firm that is able to see each case individually and for its own specific facts and circumstances. Our firm also has many useful and well established connections. This means that if an expert witness is needed or an attorney that deals with another type of law is needed, we can call upon these people to help with the case.
Our attorneys are experienced in many different types of wrongful death claims, including those caused by:
- Auto accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bike accidents
We will aggressively advocate for your rights and handle your claim with compassion and expertise. Call us today for a free and confidential evaluation.