Wrongful death lawsuits are difficult to win, so do not go into the process on your own. By calling Barrios Virgüez to speak to an experienced Duluth wrongful death lawyer, you can boost the odds of your claim being successful.
A wrongful death attorney in Duluth, GA, at our firm will also ensure that you recover the fairest and most reasonable settlement available to you. We are local personal injury attorneys that have a passion for helping our community in the Greater Gwinnett area.
Defining “Wrongful Death”
Georgia law dictates that a “wrongful death” is defined as any case wherein the death of a person results from criminal behavior, negligence, or defectively manufactured property.
In short, wrongful death cases can be filed when a person’s death was caused by another person or entity’s actions. Examples of cases where a wrongful death claim would be reasonable include the following:
- Medical malpractice
- Negligent incidents like car accidents
- Defective product-related deaths
- Criminal actions that led to the death
For a free legal consultation with a wrongful death lawyer serving Duluth, call 678-888-2222
How Do Wrongful Death Claims Work?
Unlike criminal prosecution, which requires proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, civil wrongful death claims only require the plaintiff to provide sufficient evidence showing that the defendant is primarily responsible for a person’s death. Though, in order to file a wrongful death case, you must have strong ties to the deceased.
People who are eligible to file wrongful death claims include:
- The surviving spouse of the person who died
- The child of the deceased (if there is no surviving spouse)
- The parents of the deceased (if no children or spouse survived)
- The executor of the deceased person’s estate (if no family members survived)
Unfortunately, people such as siblings, cousins, or other family members are not allowed to file wrongful death claims under Georgia law. Only the individuals listed previously can file on behalf of the deceased.
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What Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death claims are filed to recover damages from the defendant. These damages are determined based on the losses claimed by the plaintiffs. There are two primary types of losses that one can pursue through a wrongful death claim in Georgia.
- The value of the life of the deceased
- Lost wages, services, and benefits that may have been earned if the deceased had lived
- Lost companionship, counsel, and care that the deceased may have provided if they lived
- Financial losses related to the death
- Medical expenses related to the deceased person’s injuries or illness
- Funeral expenses, such as burial costs
- Other relevant expenses that resulted from the injuries or illness of the deceased
Note that the second category of losses can only be claimed by the executor, who is responsible for the deceased person’s estate.
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How Wrongful Death Settlements Are Paid Out
Wrongful death settlements can be paid out in multiple ways, depending on how you and your Duluth wrongful death attorney have approached your case and the type of accident that claimed your family member’s life.
For example, if you lost a loved one in a fatal motorcycle accident, you may have the right to file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company. Additionally, you may also be able to file a claim with the decedent’s insurance company if they purchased no-fault insurance coverage. However, insurance may not be enough.
The insurance company likely only covers damage to the vehicle and the decedent’s medical expenses. The remaining losses may need to be recouped in another way. Fortunately, when you file a wrongful death action in civil court, you can recover your damages without being restricted by insurance limitations.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
When you pursue a wrongful death claim at trial, you can recover damages the insurance company does not cover. For example, if the liable party only had $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage, but the decedent’s medical expenses exceeded $250,000, the insurance company would likely only pay a maximum of $50,000.
This means there would be an additional $200,000 in medical bills that need to be paid. When you go to trial, you can seek this extra $200,000. However, you cannot be paid for damages twice. Any compensation you recover through an insurance claim will not be available through your wrongful death lawsuit.
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The Time Limit on Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia
As with any other type of lawsuit, there is a time period that you are required to file your wrongful death claim within. This time period is decided by a law called the statute of limitations. Like personal injury claims, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years, beginning the day the deceased passed away.
Choosing not to file within this timeframe will result in family members being unable to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Statute of Limitations for Criminal Cases
When a criminal case results in wrongful death, family members have more time to file their claims. This is because the statute of limitations is suspended as the criminal case is litigated.
The two-year statute of limitations starts once the case is fully resolved. There is a six-year maximum on the suspension of the statute of limitations before the resolution of the case.
Examples of Wrongful Deaths
You are likely distraught by the death of your loved one, but filing a wrongful death claim will help you obtain some form of justice. Before you can file your claim, you should find out if the situation that caused your loved one to die qualifies as wrongful death.
While you will need to speak to a wrongful death lawyer in Duluth, GA, at Barrios Virgüez to learn exactly whether or not you are eligible to file. Here are some examples of wrongful deaths:
When a passenger or commercial vehicle collides with another vehicle or structure, the results are often devastating. If your loved one died in such an accident, the at-fault party may be subject to a wrongful death lawsuit. Even if there were no other drivers involved, negligence or faulty products may have also contributed to the accident, warranting a wrongful death claim.
When pedestrians are struck by vehicles, the damage to the unprotected person is often significant. Often, these accidents result in the death of the pedestrian. This is incredibly common in high-traffic areas like school zones, although these deadly accidents can happen anywhere.
If a doctor or other medical practitioner was negligent in their actions or caused an error that led to death, they could be liable. Wrongful death claims are typically filed when misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, prescription errors, or surgical errors occur.
Get Justice for the Wrongful Death of Your Loved One
While money will not bring back your deceased loved one, it will make it easier for you to recover from the consequences of their death. An experienced Duluth wrongful death lawyer at Barrios Virgüez can offer you the compassion and support you need to get through these difficult times.
To get in touch with a wrongful death lawyer in Duluth, GA, use the contact form on this page or call our office to schedule a free consultation today.
Call or text 678-888-2222 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form