Savannah Wrongful Death lAWYERS

Home » Practice Areas » Wrongful Death

Wrongful death occurs when someone passes away because of the negligence or carelessness of another person or entity. Surviving members can find it difficult to experience emotional healing and closure after the unexpected death of their loved one.

There is never a way to replace the emotional toll that such a tragedy will have on loved ones. There is also a financial impact it can have on the family left behind. There could be income that is no longer coming or services that are no longer being performed, such as maintenance around the house.

When negligence from another party is involved, the person’s family should obtain legal advice and discuss their options in seeking justice. The emotional ordeal is enough for them to have to encounter. They should not have to suffer financially as well.

wrongful death

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death occurs when the death of an individual is caused by the actions or inactions of another person. The liability entity can be an individual or an entire company. If their actions directly led to the death of a person, they can be sued for wrongful death. A suit can be filed for the death of a parent, spouse, or child.

The Georgia Wrongful Death Act outlines the legal grounds that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. The most common types of wrongful death suits in Georgia include:

The law has five codes and has its share of addenda added over the years. It continues to be the cornerstone of helping Georgia residents confront those that have caused a loved one to pass away.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Under Georgia law, only a family member can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. That includes the deceased person’s spouse, adult child, parent, or personal representative of the estate. For instance, a person cannot file a claim if they were the person’s best friend. Any damages recovered from a wrongful death case must be transferred by the personal representatives to the next of kin. The exception is if the deceased listed specific beneficiaries in their will. Then, they must receive the percentage of the damages in accordance with the final wishes of the deceased. In general, an estate will explain how an inheritance will transfer in case one or all the beneficiaries prove to be ineligible.

How Will My Lawyer Prove Negligence?

In addition to the immense grief and emotional trauma that follows a wrongful death or fatal accident, it can have a devastating financial impact on the deceased’s family and dependents. The first and possibly most significant financial loss is that of income. Even with good insurance coverage, losing the steady income that a family depends on can make this difficult time even worse.

If the loved one spent time in the hospital, medical bills are yet another burden, as are funeral costs. More than any amount of money, however, is the pain and heartache that follow a fatal accident. An experienced lawyer is ready to fight on behalf of the family.

A wrongful death claim is a specific type of personal injury claim. In a wrongful death case, a plaintiff must prove the following:

  • Duty: First, the plaintiff must prove to the court that the defendant in the case owed the deceased a level of duty. It could be a manufacturing company, a construction company, or even someone driving another car.
  • Breach: Once the level of duty has been established, then it is up to the plaintiff to demonstrate to the court how that duty was violated. This violation could have occurred because of a specific action by the defendant or even a lack of action in a certain circumstance. The question becomes if given the same situation, would a reasonable person have acted differently.
  • Damage: The plaintiff must demonstrate a clear and decisive link between the breach of duty by the defendant and the death of the individual.
  • Causation: The plaintiff must also demonstrate that the defendant’s actions or lack of action directly resulted in the death of the individual. The death could not have been caused by anything else.

Georgia wrongful death lawsuits can be highly complex matters and require the legal expertise of a lawyer who specializes in this area of law. Families may not understand the various amounts of paperwork that they must file to file this type of lawsuit in the state. A lawyer can help them handle the paperwork and the legal aspects while they grieve the sudden loss of their loved one.

The challenges associated with winning a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia includes the fact that judges and juries are asked to base any rewards on the losses and pain and suffering of the person. A plaintiff will have to structure their suit by first evaluating the deceased’s lost future earnings, retirement benefits, savings, and inheritance as well as their physical and mental suffering prior to death.

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In most instances, a family member has two years from the date of the person’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. If they fail to meet that deadline, the case will be thrown out. The only exception is if there is a criminal case pending in connection with that death. The time limit on the civil case pauses until after the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

Possible Compensation in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In Georgia, there are two versions of wrongful death that can be filed. The first is a wrongful death claim made by the surviving family members on behalf of the deceased person. This is where an individual can recoup the financial losses based on the value of the deceased’s life. This can include both tangible and intangible loss that the deceased was providing for their family that will no longer be available due to them because the person is not there anymore.

Compensation or damages in a Georgia wrongful death case can include pre-death claims. These can go to either the estate or the death claims that go to the heirs. In many cases, these can be the same person. Examples of the losses that the estate can receive include:

  • Lost income: The deceased may have a job that the family was reliant on for income. The death means the family is out of that income, and they can seek to recoup that loss.
  • Future income: The person who died could have been young, meaning they had years of working ahead of them. That is income they will no longer be able to earn. The family can estimate what that income would have been and seek it as part of a compensations package.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: The person who is gone will leave a large hole in the lives of everyone else. They may feel sadness and depression more than they did before. Although money will in no way replace that which they lost, it can compensate them for the happiness they will no longer feel because they have lost a loved one.
  • Loss of consortium: This can be recovered by the surviving spouse, as it is they who lost their partner in life and best friend. That loss can be devastating, and although the money can again never replace the person, it can mean the spouse has one less thing to worry about.

The second lawsuit is an estate claim where the goal is to make up for financial losses the family suffered because of the loved one’s death. This is a lawsuit that the estate will file on behalf of the deceased. These expenses relate to the costs the family had to endure because of the person’s untimely death. Both lawsuits can be filed simultaneously in the state of Georgia. With an estate suit, there are certain expenses for which the estate can seek compensation:

  • Funeral expenses: A family may not be prepared to put together a funeral for a loved one and must incur that expense. Since this expense is related to the actual death, the estate can include it in its lawsuit.
  • Medical expenses: Prior to a person’s death, there could have been an injury that they sustained or needed other medical treatment. Like a personal injury case, the estate can recoup those losses.
  • Pain and suffering prior to death: This includes both physical and mental paint that the deceased and their family may have suffered from the event that led or caused the person’s untimely death.

There are certain circumstances when punitive damages can also be sought as part of a wrongful death suit. However, there must also be pre-death pain and suffering to potentially qualify for punitive damages. Speaking with a lawyer will help a family sort out their case and put together a comprehensive and realistic compensation package.

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?

When the family of a person who died tragically hires legal representation, the lawyer will begin by investigating all the facts of the case. Based on the circumstances surrounding the wrongful death claim, the lawyer will consult with appropriate experts and prepare for trial throughout the case. An experienced lawyer will ensure that client is in position to receive the best possible results.

Contact the Kicklighter Law team at 912-754-6003 
to schedule a consultation!

Savannah Wrongful Death Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Will Handle the Legal Case While Family Members Grieve

Losing someone close to you is a devastating blow to you and your family. Our Savannah wrongful death lawyers at Kicklighter Law understand the struggles our clients face following a fatal accident. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. We are conveniently located in Springfield, Georgia, and we proudly serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.