No one should have to file a wrongful death claim.
If you do, you deserve the best Georgia attorney to fight for justice on behalf of the loved one you lost.
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Warner Robins, GA 31099
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Georgia lawyers helping grieving families near Warner Robins get justice and compensation for the loss of financial support, funeral expenses, or medical bills.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one in an accident, on behalf of our entire law firm, we’d like to offer our sincerest condolences to you and your family during this difficult time. No one should have to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but the reality is that fatal accidents happen every day, and the surviving family members are left in shock trying to pick up the pieces of their life and figure out how they are going to get used to the new normal.
Any loss of life is horrible, but legally speaking, a “wrongful death” is defined as a fatal injury caused by the inappropriate actions or negligence of another person, company or party. In Georgia, legal action can be taken in the form of a civil lawsuit filed by certain surviving family members. Such cases are highly contested and complicated, which is why hiring an experienced Warner Robins wrongful death lawyer will be in your best interest.
The law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Henson is committed to helping Georgia families receive the compensation, justice and financial security they deserve after losing a loved one in a tragic accident.
Common causes of wrongful death
- Car accident. Fatal car crashes are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Georgia residents every year. An average of 4 people lost their lives every day in 2018 alone due to reckless driving, driving under the influence, auto defects, road repairs, distracted driving and other causes. On top of grieving the loss of a loved one, the process of filing an insurance claim to receive compensation for medical bills and property damages is stressful.
- Truck accident. Truck wrecks differ from car accidents in that the likelihood of a fatality is increased drastically due to the size and weight of semis and tractor trailers. Jackknives, tire blowouts, adverse weather conditions, negligence on the part of the truck company, and unsecured loads are common causes of fatal truck accidents in Georgia.
- Slip and fall. Slips, trips and falls are the third most common workplace fatalities in Georgia. Even though this number has decreased in the past few years, it is still one of the leading causes of a wrongful death claim.
- Workplace accident. Construction work and other manual labor jobs are common causes of wrongful death in the workplace, totaling 194 fatalities in 2017 alone. The transportation sector is also high on the list of occupations ranked by workplace fatalities, with 49 percent of workplace accidents occurring within the transportation industry. Workers’ compensation will usually cover the costs of funeral/burial expenses in the event of a fatal work accident, but sometimes a wrongful death lawsuit may also be necessary.
- Medical malpractice. Doctors and nurses are human, too. No matter how careful these medical experts are, hundreds of thousands of lives are lost every year in the United States because proper procedures weren’t followed. If your loved one died at the hands of a medical “professional” (including misdiagnosis, pharmaceutical error, improper treatment, surgical errors, or lack of informed consent), then you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the provider, hospital or individual.
- Defective product. Goods and products for sale on the marketplace should be safe for consumers. Unfortunately, sometimes dangerous products slip through the net, resulting in serious injury or death. These products can include anything from children’s toys to medical devices to toxic food products, or even vehicles and auto parts.
How to win a wrongful death case
In order to successfully prove that negligence caused your loved one’s wrongful death, there must be evidence of the following four elements:
- Duty. The responsible party must have owed the deceased person a duty. For example, it is the duty of all drivers to avoid risking other lives by driving in a safe manner.
- Breach of duty. Failing to obey the duty owed is considered a breach. For instance, if a person was driving drunk, they breached their duty to drive safely.
- Injuries. The victim must have suffered injuries or been killed.
- Causation. There must be reasonable evidence to support that the fatal injuries were caused by the breach of duty.
Generally, the fourth element — causation — is where this is most often disputed in wrongful death cases. To prove this element, you may need help from an attorney who specializes in these types of cases.
Who can sue for wrongful death in Georgia?
- Spouses. If you believe your spouse was the victim of a wrongful death, you are entitled to seek legal compensation in all 50 states.
- Children and stepchildren. All states acknowledge that children and stepchildren have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim. If they are underage, a guardian must be appointed.
- A designated state representative. If the deceased has no surviving spouse or children, all damages will be held by a designated state representative until it can be distributed to the next of kin.
- Parents. If the deceased has no spouse or children, a parent may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
- Siblings. Georgia is one of the few states where it is also possible for siblings of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim.
Georgia statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits
There are exceptions to every rule. But in most cases, if you file after the deadline, then it is unlikely the courts will agree to hear your case and you will no longer have the right to seek compensation.
- Tolls. In the legal world, “toll” doesn’t refer to a bridge, but rather a period of time when the clock effectively stops counting down to the deadline for filing a claim. In wrongful death cases, this most often occurs when there is also a criminal charge such as drunk driving, which can extend the time limit from 2 to 7 years.
- 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 can pause the clock to the wrongful death deadline.
Types of damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit
What can you and your family be compensated for in the event that you lose a loved one due to another person’s negligence? For starters, quantifiable damages such as medical costs and funeral expenses can all be recovered in full under the Georgia law. Other damages that are more difficult to quantify but may also be worthy of compensation include less-tangible factors such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
- Funeral and burial expenses. The cost of burying a loved one is more than just monetary — it’s also emotional. If you decide to file a wrongful death claim, it’s possible to receive compensation to help cover the financial expenses of burial.
- Loss of future wages. The estimated time and pay that the deceased would have made before their death is considered lost future wages and can be awarded to the family of the deceased.
- Medical expenses. Any medical bills and costs incurred prior to a person’s death can be covered under a wrongful death claim.
- Loss of consortium. Damages for loss of consortium are intended to reimburse you for the loss of companionship you experience after your spouse or loved one dies. The courts will try to place a value on this damage and offer it as part of your compensation.
- Loss of inheritance. The value that the deceased would have added to their estate at the end of their life is considered an inheritance. Spouses and children can claim this lost value when they file for wrongful death.
- Pain and suffering. If the deceased suffered prior to their death, the court will attempt to put a dollar amount on this suffering and add it to the compensation the spouse or children will receive.
- Punitive damages. A wrongful death lawsuit is one of the few instances in a civil court of law where punitive damages can be awarded. Intentional harm caused by the defendant will often be quantified and the damages will be awarded by the judge to the deceased’s family.
Get a FREE consultation from an experienced Warner Robins, GA wrongful death lawyer
We understand that all the compensation in the world can never replace the loss of your loved one. However, financial reimbursement from the at-fault individual or party can help provide grieving families with a sense of closure and justice. Compensation also gives you and your family some financial flexibility to process your loss.
If you decide to seek legal advice about pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, we are here to help. The dedicated attorneys at Westmoreland Law have over 50 years of experience on our side to help you win your case. With offices located in Warner Robins, Macon, and Albany, we serve clients across the state of Georgia.