Losing a loved one is a tragedy. When another party’s careless, reckless, or intentional act caused the death, it makes the loss even more difficult to process.
Families might find some solace or closure in a wrongful death lawsuit. These civil claims seek monetary compensation from the wrongdoer—a person, institution, or company—that caused your family member’s death. A compassionate injury attorney can explain whether your family has grounds to sue for wrongful death.
If so, a Dalton wrongful death lawyer could handle the proceeding from beginning to end. Although money cannot ease the pain of grief, it could help your family establish a firmer footing to move forward after your loved one’s death.
Wrongful death actions could arise out of a wide range of incidents, including car wrecks, industrial accidents, shootings, medical mistakes, and anything in between.
Some fatal incidents result in criminal proceedings where a prosecutor brings charges against someone who causes another person’s death. Responsible parties face jail time, fines, or other forms of punishment in criminal court. While the victim’s family might find satisfaction if the perpetrator faces such consequences, they derive no other benefit from the criminal proceedings.
A wrongful death lawsuit in civil court is about compensating the family for their loss. If a skilled Dalton wrongful death attorney can prove that a party’s actions or inactions led to someone’s unnecessary and preventable death, the responsible party must pay financial compensation to the victim’s family.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 51-4-2 governs wrongful death claims. The law describes who may bring them, what compensation they may receive, and who receives the proceeds.
If the deceased person was married when they died, their spouse must bring the wrongful death lawsuit. Unmarried partners do not have the right to file the claim.
If the deceased person had no living spouse, one of their children could bring the lawsuit. The law does not distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate children; any of the deceased person’s children could bring the suit and share in the proceeds.
When the deceased person leaves no spouse or children, their parent or guardian could sue for wrongful death. If the deceased person had no immediate family when they died, the representative of their estate could bring a wrongful death action.
The family is entitled to receive the money the deceased person would have earned and contributed to the household for their remaining working life. The family also receives the value of the deceased person’s services to the household, like childcare or yard work.
Additionally, a deceased person’s family may receive money for the intangible aspects of their life—their family relationships, friendships, and hobbies that they can no longer enjoy because of their early death.
If the deceased person left only a spouse, the spouse gets all the money. If they left a spouse and two children, all three get equal shares. If the deceased left a spouse and more than two children, the spouse gets one-third, and the children share the remaining two-thirds equally.
Distributing the funds gets more complicated if the deceased person was predeceased by a child who left children. A knowledgeable legal professional could explain how the money must be distributed in that case.
In most cases, a family must initiate a wrongful death claim within two years of the date of their loved one’s death. Note that the clock begins ticking on the date of death, not the date of the fatal incident.
However, sometimes the government might have responsibility for a death. Unjustified police shootings, school bus crashes, accidents on public property, and similar incidents could make a government liable for a wrongful death. If a government has responsibility for a death, the time limit to notify the government of the claim is either six months or a year from the date of death, depending on whether the state or a local government has responsibility.
The time limits could be longer if a prosecutor initiated criminal proceedings related to the death or if the deceased person left no will. A capable wrongful death lawyer in Dalton can explain whether the longer timeframes might apply in a specific case.
When your loved one died because of someone else’s carelessness or misconduct, you can take legal action against them. A wrongful death claim in civil court holds the at-fault party accountable and could ensure financial security for your family.
You must act quickly to preserve your rights. Speak with a Dalton wrongful death lawyer today.