Filing a wrongful death claim in Smyrna requires proving that someone or some entity was responsible for your loved one’s death and your family suffered losses as a result of your loved one’s death. There are also restrictions on who can file the claim and how long they have to do so.
It can be a complicated legal process. If you find yourself in the position of pursuing a wrongful death claim after a fatal accident, please accept our sympathies for your loss. An attorney versed in Smyrna wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate the requirements to pursue legal action.
Proving Wrongful Death
Wrongful death claims generally hinge on proving the defendant was negligent and caused your loved one’s death. A negligent action might include driving while impaired, for example.
Your wrongful death claim must prove the following:
- Duty of care: The defendant has a duty to take reasonable care to keep your loved one safe from harm; for instance, a driver who follows traffic laws and does not drive while impaired may be taking reasonable care.
- Breach of duty of care: The defendant breached that duty of care by acting negligently or recklessly. For example, a driver who ignores stoplights and drives while impaired is not taking reasonable care to keep others on the road safe from harm.
- Causation: The defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s accident and fatal injuries. Your case must link the defendant’s behavior to your loved one’s death.
- Damages: Your loved one’s death caused your family to suffer losses, including economic and noneconomic losses.
Proving a wrongful death to meet these legal standards can be complicated. Working with an attorney experienced in meeting all legal requirements may save you time and help you avoid a negative outcome if you fail to build a case that establishes liability.
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Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in Smyrna
The law in Georgia is specific as to who may file a wrongful death claim. Those individuals include:
- The spouse of the deceased
- The children of the deceased
- The parent(s) of the deceased
- The executor or the estate
The person or persons entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit depend on the circumstances, so speak with a wrongful death lawyer about your case. If there is no executor named or your loved one died intestate, the court may help to resolve the question of who may file a claim.
What are the Recoverable Losses in a Wrongful Death Claim
Every wrongful death claim is unique. The losses that may be pursued for your loved one’s death may not be the same as those in another family’s wrongful death claim. If you’re working with an attorney, they can help you determine damages and how to accurately account for those losses. Georgia allows you to recover for the “full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence.”
Certain damages apply to many wrongful death cases, such as:
- Lost income, benefits, pensions, and loss of future earnings
- Loss of companionship and support, loss of other family relationships and friendships, loss of enjoyment of life
Separately, an estate claim may be filed to recover funeral and burial expenses as well as medical expenses and other financial losses associated with the fatal injury and death of your loved one, including the pain and suffering they experienced before death.
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Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Georgia law allows for legal action to begin no later than two years from the date of your loved one’s death. If the death was a result of a criminal action, you may be allowed to delay a lawsuit until the conclusion of the criminal case.
Whatever the circumstances, be sure you understand the amount of time you have. If you do not file your wrongful death action before the statute of limitations expires, you may not be allowed to pursue compensation.
What Happens After You Recover Wrongful Death Compensation
Once the compensation settlement or judgment funds are received, Georgia law indicates how those funds should be disbursed:
- The spouse receives the compensation, and if there are children,
- The spouse and up to two children will divide the compensation equally, and if there are more than two children,
- The spouse will receive one-third, and the rest will be divided among the children, and if there is no surviving spouse or children,
- The parents of the deceased may receive the compensation.
There are many more rules about disbursement of compensation in a wrongful death claim. You may consult an attorney for information about your specific case.
An Attorney Can Help Meet the Requirements for a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death lawyer can manage your family’s wrongful death case from start to finish. Some of the ways our attorneys help our clients pursue wrongful death damages include:
- Identify the at-fault party and other parties liable for your loved one’s fatal accident
- File appropriate claims and lawsuits seeking damages
- Retrieve evidence that establishes fault and liability
- Work with expert witnesses who can testify in your case
- Build your case to prove the losses your family suffered
- Negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement that accounts for your family’s losses
- Represent your family at trial, if needed
Our wrongful death lawyers also keep you updated about your case, answer all your questions, and empower your family through the legal process.
Get a Free Case Evaluation with Our Wrongful Death Attorneys
The requirements that must be met for a wrongful death claim in Smyrna are plentiful and complicated. Our wrongful death attorneys will help you understand your legal options. Call to get your free case review today and learn how we can help you navigate wrongful death law in our state and manage your case from start to finish.