Did you recently lose a loved one in a wrongful death accident?
Let us help you hold the responsible parties liable for funeral costs and other expenses.
2410 Westgate Dr, Suite 101
Albany, GA 31707
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Attorneys available on weekends by appointment
Georgia wrongful death lawyers helping surviving family members get justice for over 50 years
Filing a lawsuit after the unexpected and sudden loss of a loved one is the last thing most grieving individuals and families want to do. You may not have even begun to process how your life will change going forward. In addition to learning how to cope with your loved one no longer being in your life, you now may be struggling with financial questions like how you’re going to pay the mortgage and provide for your family.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a tragic accident, first and foremost we extend our deepest condolences for your loss.
While we know that you’d give any amount of money to have your loved one back, our wrongful death lawyers also understand that you may have pressing financial concerns — starting with how you’re going to pay for funeral expenses. On top of grieving the loss of a loved one, fielding the insurance company, medical bills, and property damage can be stressful. Hiring an attorney during this difficult time can help relieve some of the pressure and burden you feel.
A wrongful death is defined as any accident or injury caused by negligence that leads to the death of an individual.
Legal action can be taken in the form of a civil lawsuit filed by certain surviving family members, such as a spouse or parent of the deceased individual.
At the offices of Westmoreland, Patterson, Mosely, and Hinson, our committed and compassionate team of lawyers want to make sure you receive the best outcome possible. If your loved one was killed in a wrongful death accident, we will be your biggest advocates. Let us handle your financial recovery so that you and your family can focus on what matters most.
Common causes of wrongful death
The most common causes for wrongful death cases in Georgia include:
- Medical malpractice is a common cause of wrongful death. No matter how careful nurses, doctors, and other medical experts are, an estimated 251,000 lives are lost each year in the United States because the proper procedures weren’t followed. If you or a loved one have suffered a loss at the hands of medical malpractice, an Albany injury lawyer can help you receive compensation to cover the costs. Misdiagnoses, pharmaceutical errors, improper treatment, surgical errors, and lack of informed consent are all examples of medical malpractice.
- Car accidents are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Georgia residents each year. An average of 4 fatalities per day occurred in 2018 alone due to reckless driving, driving under the influence, vehicle defects, road repairs, distracted driving, and other causes.
- Slip and falls are the third most common workplace fatalities in Georgia alone, only slightly less than the national average. And while this number has decreased in the past few years, it’s still the cause of far too many deaths.
- Work and construction accidents are responsible for a substantial portion of wrongful deaths each year. Workplace fatalities in Georgia totaled 194 in 2017 alone. Surprisingly, 49 percent of those accidents occurred within the transportation industry, not construction.
- Violent crime. Every hour, 7 people in the United States are victims of violent deaths such as homicides and assaults. These acts of violence can happen anywhere — on the road, at home, and in the workplace. While homicide and assault are crimes and will be treated as a criminal case, this does nothing to compensate the surviving family members of a person killed for their loss. You may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim, in addition to the criminal case, to recover the financial costs of a violent crime.
- Defective products can include anything from children’s toys to medical devices to toxic food products and even defective vehicles and parts. If a manufacturer or company is responsible for the loss of your loved one, you can get justice and make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to another family by pursuing a wrongful death claim.
- Truck accidents are even more deadly, statistically speaking, than car accidents due to the large size and heavy weight of semi-trucks. Jackknives, tire blowouts, adverse weather conditions, negligence on the part of the truck company, and unsecured loads are all dangerous factors that can prove fatal for truck drivers, other motorists and pedestrians.
Who can sue in a wrongful death lawsuit in Albany, GA?
In Georgia, only certain people are allowed to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased individual. Those eligible include:
- The deceased’s spouse
- The deceased’s children and stepchildren
- A designated state representative (if the deceased has no surviving spouse or children)
- The deceased’s parents (if the deceased has no spouse or children)
Some states allow the deceased’s siblings to file a wrongful death claim in certain cases, including Georgia.
Georgia wrongful death statute of limitations
Every state has its own statute of limitations that pertain to wrongful death cases. In the state of Georgia, eligible family members have 2 years from the date of the death of their loved one to file a wrongful death claim.
There are rare exceptions, but in most cases, if you file after the deadline, it’s unlikely the courts will hear your case and you will no longer be able to legally seek compensation.
Two exceptions to the statute of limitations include:
- Tolls. In the legal world, “toll” doesn’t refer to a bridge, but a period of time when the clock effectively stops counting down to the deadline for filing a claim. In the case of wrongful death, this might occur when the court pursues a related criminal case (i.e. homicide, assault, etc.) and so the time limit to file a civil claim is paused (tolled) until the criminal case is resolved.
- Probated estates. Deceased persons can’t own property, so it goes through a probate process in order to be legally transferred from their ownership to that of a living beneficiary. This process may pause the clock to the statute of limitations deadline.
Types of wrongful death damages
Easily quantifiable damages such as medical costs and funeral expenses can be recovered in full under Georgia wrongful death law if there is a strong enough case. Other damages that are more difficult to quantify include less-tangible factors such as pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
Here’s a list of economic and non-economic damages a plaintiff can seek in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Any and all medical expenses incurred prior to death can be covered under a wrongful death claim. The court will award damages to help relieve the costs, sometimes down to the last penny.
- Loss of future wages includes the time and pay that the deceased would have made had they lived a full and natural life.
- Funeral and burial expenses are commonly covered in the event of a wrongful death.
- Loss of consortium tries to account for the companionship the surviving relatives lose when their loved one dies. Nothing can ever truly make up for this loss, but the courts will attempt to place a dollar value on this harm and offer it as part of the compensation package.
- Loss of inheritance means the estimated value the deceased would have added to their estate by the end of their life. Spouses & children can claim the lost value when they file a wrongful death claim.
- Pain and suffering on the part of the deceased prior to their death is difficult to think about. The court will attempt to put a dollar amount on this harm and add it to the compensation the eligible dependants receive.
- Punitive damages are generally uncommon in most civil cases, but more often awarded in wrongful death lawsuits. Intentional harm caused by the defendant will often be quantified and the damages will be awarded by the judge to the family of the deceased.
Contact an experienced Albany, GA wrongful death lawyer
At the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, we realize there’s no compensation in the world that can completely ease the sudden loss of a loved one. But with over 50 years of success and three offices in Macon, Albany, and Warner Robins, our wrongful death lawyers can utilize their expertise and experience to help relieve some of your financial burdens.