Pursuing a wrongful death claim is one of the hardest times in a person’s life. The loss of a loved one, in general, is difficult to process, let alone adding the circumstances of negligence or an intentional act that led to your loved one’s death. Wrongful death attorneys understand the client’s grief as much as they understand the process that is necessary to bring to justice the responsible parties involved.
In this guide, we cover a few things you will need to know to file a successful lawsuit during this time of grief.
What qualifies as a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim can be brought against a defendant who has caused someone’s death either through negligence or as a result of some intentional action. Some wrongful death claims can be filed from workplace accidents, car accidents, medical malpractices, and other situations when a person loses their life through no fault of their own and negligence from a third party.
One example is the loss of life due to a car accident. In a case like this, the at-fault driver may be held liable in a wrongful death claim. The same is true of intentional acts such as murder. Someone who is responsible for someone’s death can be held to both criminal charges and civil charges such as a wrongful death claim.
To file a wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members must prove that:
- Their loved one died due to someone else’s negligence.
- The family has suffered harm because of their loved one’s death, such as lost income and intangible losses like a lost partnership, reduced quality of life, pain and suffering, etc.
It is also important to know that in the statute of limitations in Georgia for negligence claims is two years. In some cases, it is possible to have them tolled, which means to stop the running time period set by a statute of limitations. One example of when a case can be tolled is in the case when a medication is discovered to have ill side effects years after the loss of a loved one.
A wrongful death attorney can understand the facts of your case and be able to determine if your case can be tolled or if it is limited to the statute of limitations for your state.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful death claims allow an estate or those close to a deceased person to file a lawsuit against the party who is legally liable for the death. In most cases, wrongful death claims are filed by an estate, which is a legal creation opened in probate court for the purpose of execution of a will and resolving financial matters. Estates are also granted the ability to file legal actions on behalf of the deceased and are a convenient vehicle to settle legal claims. It can also be established for people requiring intestate distribution, which is when someone dies without a will.
The wrongful death statute also states that a surviving spouse, a surviving child, and a surviving parent can also file a wrongful death lawsuit, but the most common way is to get the deceased’s estate involved. Then once benefits are obtained, they can then be transferred to the benefactors of that estate.
It is also important to note that workers’ compensation and wrongful death claims are separate types of legal actions that can be taken at the time of the loss of a loved one. Accidents often happen at the workplace and sometimes result in loss of life. Workers’ compensation is designed to care for a worker and their dependents during the time of injury or death at the workplace or from performing work duties. Worker’s compensation is also designed to protect the employer from further legal action. In most cases, if you choose to file a workers’ compensation claim, you relinquish the right to be compensated for intangible losses such as loss of partnership and reduced quality of life, which can only be recovered by a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, if an accident at the workplace was caused by a third party other than the employer, a wrongful death claim can be filed against the third party who was responsible for the loss of life. Of course, each case is different, and there are fact-based adjustments that an attorney experienced in wrongful death claims can analyze to determine the best approach for your case.
If you have lost a loved one to an accident due to negligence or an intentional act, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Of course, no amount of money can help bring back your loved one, but the payout can help families stay afloat. During a time of grief, it is helpful to have an objective mind on your side. A personal injury lawyer can fight to make sure all of the bases are covered and you are in the best possible situation to be properly compensated for your loss. Know your legal rights and speak with an attorney that specializes in wrongful death lawsuits and can help you choose the best approach to your case.
Summary: What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim can be brought against a defendant who has caused someone’s death either through negligence or as a result of some intentional action. Know your legal rights and speak to a personal injury attorney who has experience with wrongful death lawsuits.