What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death is any death caused by reckless, negligent, or intentional actions of another person. There are many different types of wrongful death claims. The most common include:
A surviving victim can bring a personal injury case. A lawsuit can protect their future and finances. A victim who passes away cannot take such action.
Wrongful death suits have unique considerations. A grieving family could face great financial hardship. This includes medical bills and loss of the victim’s expected income. The family may also need counseling and other treatment.
Georgia law protects surviving family members. It does so by allowing close relatives to seek compensation for their loss.
What qualifies a wrongful death lawsuit?
Grieving family members may be uncertain about filing a lawsuit. A Duluth wrongful death lawyer can address your concerns. They will handle your case from start to finish.
Your case may be high stakes. If the deceased was the primary earner of your household, your family will need financial assistance. The deceased’s injuries may have caused significant expenses like medical bills and funeral costs.
Our firm can help you manage the practical effects of a sudden death. Obtaining compensation through a wrongful death claim may ease your burden.
There are two primary types of wrongful death claims in Georgia:
- “Full value of life” claim. Georgia law permits spouses and eligible family members to sue for:
- The non-economic value of the deceased’s life
- The economic value of the deceased’s life
Combined, these categories cover the deceased’s lifetime income and enjoyment of life.
- Estate claim. The estate of the deceased may claim damages for the financial cost of the accident. These may include funeral expenses. These may also include the pain and suffering the deceased experienced before death. The estate may also claim punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer for extreme indifference to human life.
The civil justice system in Georgia allows families to become financially whole after a wrongful death. A Duluth wrongful death lawyer Scholle Law will pursue a fair outcome for you.
How hard is it to prove wrongful death?
You must provide four key elements to prove a wrongful death. These elements include:
- Duty of Care. According to Georgia law, a wrongful death must result from the recklessness or negligence of another party. The duty of care is the standard for reasonable actions. A lawyer from Scholle Law will cite the doctrine establishing the defendant’s duty of care.
- Breach of Duty. Your lawyer will argue that the defendant breached their duty through negligent actions. These actions will depend on the details of your case.
- Causation. Your lawyer will need to demonstrate that the other party’s negligence caused your loved one’s death. This is distinct from a breach of duty of care. Causation forms an additional link between the defendant and the results of the tragic incident.
- Damages. Your lawyer will need to show that the victim’s death has resulted in demonstrated damages to your family. Your lawyer will provide any documentation that proves your damages. This can strengthen your case.
Your legal team will need to demonstrate each of these elements as persuasively as possible. A skilled Duluth wrongful death lawyer can use witness testimony and evidence as appropriate. The end goal of these steps is obtaining compensation for you.
If you are searching for information about filing a wrongful death claim, first off, I’d like to extend my deepest condolences for your loss. Losing a loved one in a tragic and preventable accident is one of the hardest things a family can go through. In addition to securing your financial future, if you choose to hire me, I personally vow to fight for justice on behalf of your deceased loved one. The person or company responsible for your loved one’s death must be held accountable for their actions. Let me fight for you.
Contact a Duluth Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
The experienced Duluth attorneys at Scholle Law have the compassion and skill to help you at this difficult time. We bring years of expertise in both wrongful death claims and probate law. Our experience allows us to manage every detail of your case.
We want to help your family heal. We treat those who have lost a loved one with the respect and compassion they deserve.
Why choose Scholle Law as your Duluth wrongful death lawyers?
We prioritize our clients. We get to know you and touch base consistently. We bring dedication and empathy to every case. This care is particularly important in wrongful death cases. We help families cope with loss and work to protect their futures.
Scholle Law has years of experience with probate and estate administration. These are generally related to wrongful death cases. With this expertise, we can guide families through the complicated processes that follow a sudden death.
Here are the stories of clients that we have helped. Their circumstances may be similar to yours.
- Recently, our office received a call from a family after a devastating car wreck. Our client’s daughter and spouse were involved in a collision with a commercial van. The van struck their vehicle on the passenger side.
The spouse was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. We uncovered new evidence in our own investigation that law enforcement had neglected. The commercial van driver was speeding and possibly distracted at the time of impact.
- As a result of our actions, we were able to negotiate a $2 million settlement for our client. We were able to ease some of the trauma that the daughter was burdened with because of the accident.
In another case, we represented the family of a man who died in a motorcycle accident. We secured more than $1 million for his surviving spouse.
Scholle Law is here to lift the burden from surviving victims of wrongful deaths. We enable our clients to grieve and recover. We offer free, no-obligation case consultations. Send us a message online or give us a call to start the evaluation process.
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Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases
Several circumstances can lead to a wrongful death claim. These seven are the most common:
- Car Accidents: Car accidents are among the most common causes of wrongful death. Traffic deaths can result from negligence. In some cases, a city or county can be liable because of dangerous road conditions. Vehicle manufacturers may also be liable for accident-causing defects.
- Medical Malpractice: Healthcare professionals are human. They make mistakes and sometimes claim lives as a consequence. Our firm may be able to prove that a medical error caused your loved one’s passing.
- Workplace Accidents: Many careers are hazards to employees’ health. Your attorney may be able to show that an employer contributed to your loved one’s death. A third party may also be liable for a workplace accident.
- Defective Products: Manufacturers spend much time testing their products for safety. You may be able to hold the manufacturer liable for a defective product.
- Semi-Truck Accidents: Large trucks are the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Drivers of semi-trucks have a great duty of care. Your Duluth wrongful death lawyer may obtain compensation for this type of accident. Driver error, defective equipment, and employer negligence are potential triggers of liability.
- Aviation Accidents: Airplane and helicopter accidents don’t happen very often. When they do, the risk of fatal injury is great. The cause of an accident could be pilot error or mechanical failure. In these cases, liable parties may pay for the loss of your loved one.
What damages may be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Georgia’s state laws discuss the types of damages that you can receive after a wrongful death. Georgia’s statutes permit three categories of compensatory damages for surviving loved ones:
- The full value of the deceased’s life
- Funeral and estate-related expenses
- Medical expenses plus pain and suffering
Your attorney will argue for interest payments if appropriate. This would increase the amount of compensation that you are entitled to.
Punitive damages are a part of Georgia’s wrongful death laws. Georgia courts will award them only under exceptional circumstances. Wrongful death laws are very complex. Each case requires careful examination.
Your family should talk to a Duluth wrongful death lawyer from Scholle Law before filing your claim.
How are wrongful death damages distributed?
Wrongful death beneficiaries will receive awarded damages or settlement proceeds. Beneficiaries generally include the immediate family of the deceased.
If no immediate family members are alive, the damages will go to the representative of the estate. Damages will be distributed evenly among all beneficiaries. There is one exception to this rule.
Per Georgia law, a victim’s spouse will never receive less than one-third of the damages awarded.
If a beneficiary is a minor, any amount that is less than $15,000 will be held by the child’s natural guardian for the child’s benefit. If the child receives more than $15,000, it must be in the protection of a guardian of the child’s property.
Who has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Specific Georgia laws detail which family members can file a wrongful death claim. Georgia statutes also specify the priority that each party has in that claim. The order of priority in a wrongful death claim goes as follows:
- Husband or wife (spouse)
- Any other heir or next of kin (designated by a will or by Georgia probate law)
Wrongful death cases often lead to messy probate disputes. Dealing with them in a compassionate yet productive manner requires deft legal skills. Speak with a Duluth wrongful death lawyer about how they can help. Their goal will be the receipt of the compensation you deserve.
Scholle Law has litigated many wrongful death cases. We support the victim’s loved ones with the legal and personal aspects of these difficult cases. We take the burden off the shoulders of grieving families by seeking the best possible case outcome.
How long does it take to settle wrongful death claims?
You may seek quick compensation after your loved one’s passing. You may have no other recourse to make ends meet. However, speed can be an unrealistic expectation for a wrongful death case.
A wrongful death suit settles quickly may result in insufficient compensation. An insurance company may offer a fast settlement. This offer may be tempting. This is a strategy that insurance companies can use to pay lower-than-necessary settlements.
We will take the necessary time to pursue the compensation you deserve. Working with a Duluth wrongful death lawyer from our team will provide great insight. We will explain how much compensation your claim is worth. We will help you avoid the regret that comes from accepting a quick, insufficient settlement.
A wrongful death claim that includes maximum compensation can take time to settle. This is because:
- We need time to gather as much relevant information as possible
- The insurance company may initially refuse to pay the full amount that you deserve
- The insurance company may require drawn-out negotiations before agreeing to settle
- Your case may need to go to trial (if settlement negotiations are not successful)
- Trial may be a lengthy process, especially if the defendant does not accept liability for the death of your loved one
Your case may take months or longer. In some cases, filing the lawsuit and working through the legal system can take years. We can explain these possibilities. We will also explain how your family can remain financially afloat during this period.
It’s essential that you find a Duluth wrongful death lawyer who will work hard for you. Your case is too important to do otherwise.
How does wrongful death differ from homicide?
The two terms are entirely different yet can be easily confused. Understand each:
- Wrongful death cases refer to civil claims that one person brings against another party on behalf of a person who has died. In a wrongful death case, the defendant could be a person, a business entity, or a government entity.
- Homicide is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being by another. This is a criminal act.
Criminal death is governed by a state’s criminal code.
Criminal deaths and homicides are managed under a state’s criminal code. Title 16 of the O.C.G.A contains Georgia’s criminal code, which encompasses cases such as murder and manslaughter. The state prosecutes homicide cases, while personal injury attorneys like Charles Scholle try wrongful death cases.
Criminal homicide cases and civil wrongful death cases generally have different aims. In a criminal death case, the court aims to punish the wrongdoer for their actions. In a wrongful death case, the aim is to compensate the victim’s family for their loss.
There are several other important differences between criminal death and wrongful death in the state of Georgia:
- A district attorney’s office will not pursue a wrongful death claim (it is not under their legal purview)
- You can pursue a wrongful death case even if the district attorney’s office pursues a criminal action for homicide. You can file a civil case whether or not the defendant is found guilty of criminal charges.
- The criminal code of Georgia does not apply to a wrongful death action. Instead, Chapter 4 of Title 51 (Torts) of O.C.G.A. applies.
- There will be no “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict in a wrongful death suit. Instead, it will determine that the defendant is “liable” or “not liable.”
- Wrongful death cases cannot result in jail time or imprisonment for a defendant. Rather, monetary damages may be awarded if the responsible party is found liable.
These distinctions are important. They may be difficult for you to grasp or navigate as you seek compensation, however. Your emotional anguish may make legal terms and principles even more difficult to understand. You do not need to grapple with these issues. Your Duluth wrongful death lawyer will guide you through the legal process. They’ll fight for the positive outcome that you deserve.
Wrongful Death Questions and Answers
While medical malpractice can relate to wrongful death, the two terms are distinct.
- Malpractice refers to a type of medical negligence
- Wrongful death is a type of claim that parties settle in civil court
Not all wrongful death cases involve medical malpractice. Some malpractice claims result in wrongful death lawsuits, but not always.
Some cases of medical malpractice are fatal. In these cases, the victim's loved ones can initiate a wrongful death claim to recover damages.
Proving medical malpractice requires detailed knowledge of both medical and legal fields. Malpractice refers to a negligent act that results in injury to a healthcare provider's patient. This can include a failure to act.
Medical malpractice happens often. One study found that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
Medical malpractice can include several different types of action, including:
- Failure to diagnose
- Misinterpreting lab results
- Poor follow-up
- Surgical mistakes
- Failure to monitor during surgery
- Premature discharge
- Medication errors
- Use of unsafe equipment
Rehashing an instance of medical malpractice can be traumatic for you. You do not have to relive a loved one's wrongful death. By hiring Duluth wrongful death lawyer from Scholle Law, you avoid re-experiencing a traumatic event. We will deal with your case in its entirety
Our team has experience with cases like yours. Hiring Scholle Law can remove a massive legal challenge from your list of responsibilities. You will have the time you need to focus on getting back to normal.
You must find a law firm that you are comfortable with. Your Duluth wrongful death lawyer must have the specific ability to handle your case. Questions to ask your prospective attorney include:
- How much experience do you have with wrongful death cases?
- Will you handle my case directly if I hire your firm?
- Do you believe that I have a strong basis for a wrongful death claim?
- How much compensation am I entitled to?
- What will you do to win my case?
- What will you charge for handling my case?
- What resources will your firm provide for my case?
- What level of involvement can I expect to have in my case?
- What are your firm's results in cases like mine?
Do not hesitate to ask any other questions that arise. Hiring a lawyer is a major decision. You want to get it right. The team at Scholle Law will answer all questions that you have.
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Georgia is two years. The clock starts on the date that the victim passes away, as noted by Georgia law (O.C.G.A § 9-3-33).
There are unique circumstances in which this time limit could change. Regardless, it is in your best interest to initiate your wrongful death claim as soon as possible. Your Duluth wrongful death lawyer will help you stay ahead of the deadline. Doing so is essential to winning your case.
Worker's compensation could be one option for pursuing compensation. Demonstrating the liability of the company can be difficult, however. This is especially true if the worker did not die while physically on company property. Your lawyer can perform an independent investigation to provide cause, but this can take time.
Understanding worker's compensation benefits takes time, effort, and some legal knowledge. The compensation that results from a worker's compensation claim can also differ from the awards granted in a wrongful death claim. Our firm understands the differences between worker's compensation and other legal actions.
You don't need to go through the legal process alone. Doing so could come at a great cost.
Contact a Duluth wrongful death lawyer from our firm today. We will speak with you about your loved one's accident. Our experts are available around the clock for free consultations. Call 866-592-1296 or send us an online message to get started.
Contact Scholle Law to learn how we can help
As experienced Atlanta wrongful death attorneys, Scholle Law’s team has the skill, experience and compassion to handle all aspects of your wrongful death matter. With our depth of experience in both wrongful death and probate law, we will work closely with executors or personal representatives to take care of details that can make your case a success.
As in all areas of our practice, we treat families who have lost a loved one with the respect and compassion they deserve.
Contact us to speak with a lawyer about your accident.We’re available 24/7 and your first consultation is free.
Call 866-972-5287 or send us a message online