When a loved one’s life is lost due to the wrongful or negligent acts of another, the event is referred to as a wrongful death in the legal world. At its core, a wrongful death is a death that shouldn’t have happened. Wrongful deaths may not be defined as criminal matters, but they are often placed under investigation as such. Regardless or whether or not a wrongful death is considered a criminal matter, the event is defined by being caused by the direct or indirect actions of an individual, party, or institution.
When a family experiences a tragedy involving a wrongful death, Georgia residents can file what is known as a wrongful death claim against the individual, institution, or party that caused the events which led to a loved one’s passing away. A lawsuit will not bring back a loved one, but it can give a grieving family peace of mind and allow them to seek justice for wrongs that were committed. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is incredibly complex. An experienced Atlanta wrongful death lawyer who understands injury and wrongful death laws can make it easier for your family to recover.
At Bey & Associates, we can provide the expertise your case requires. Our firm has decades of experience advocating on behalf of families across the entire state of Georgia. Before you contact us, however, you need to understand how wrongful death claims work in our state.
The Difference Between Wrongful Death Claims and Estate Claims
What many people don’t realize is that there are two types of wrongful death claims in the state of Georgia. The value of the claim separates the two types. The first type is the standard wrongful death claim. This type of claim is for the actual value of the deceased individual whose life was taken by the wrongful acts or negligence of another.
The second type of wrongful death claim is what’s referred to as an estate claim. Estate claims can only be filed by the surviving executor or administrator of an estate and go towards any expenses that the estate incurred after the death of a loved one or leading up to the death of a loved one. Pain and suffering costs and loss of companionship costs are considered part of an estate claim as well as funeral expenses and final medical expenses.
Estate claims, essentially, are for the survivors of a wrongful death tragedy while a traditional wrongful death lawsuit is for lost funds, etc., that would have been brought to the table by the deceased individual had they survived. Lost wages and savings account earnings are even taken into consideration.
The state of Georgia separates these two types of claims to best provide for families who have suffered after a loved one’s death. Very few states attempt to provide wrongful death damages that take an entire surviving family’s needs into consideration. Georgia, luckily, is one such state.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Atlanta?
Both types of wrongful death claims can be complex and have strict guidelines regarding who can file and when.
According to Georgia guidelines, either type of wrongful death claim can only be filed by a surviving spouse if there is one. If there isn’t, the cause of action falls to any children of the deceased individual (also known as “decedent”). If there are no spouses and/or children, the decedent’s parents have a right to file. Finally, if the deceased individual has no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate can file on behalf of the next of kin.
Surviving family members have a period of two years from the date of death of a deceased individual to file a wrongful death claim of either type. This is a period referred to as a statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations passes before a claim is filed, the claim becomes ineligible in most cases.
It’s also important to note that some courts will “toll” or extend a statute if a criminal case is also under investigation and requires extra time. Since wrongful death claims are civil matters and entirely separate from criminal matters, both types of cases can be open at the same time.
Getting Help from an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney
A successful wrongful death claim can not only give your family financial breathing room and make it easier to pay for your loved one’s funeral costs and final expenses, but it additionally sends a message the guilty party can’t ignore. Whether your loved one lost their life in a car accident with a drunk driver or a negligence-caused construction accident at a worksite, the individual or company that is sued can’t ignore a lawsuit. They will likely never make the same mistake again.
If you have recently lost a loved one and feel that filing a wrongful death lawsuit may provide peace of mind to you and your family, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Bey & Associates today. We can pair you with an experienced and knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer in Atlanta who will be happy to meet with you regarding your case. Give our office a call today. We’re here for you.