Savannah Wrongful Death Lawyers
You & Your Family Are Not Alone During this Difficult Time
The death of a family member is always tragic, but when the death is due to another person’s negligence or intentional misconduct, the emotional cost seems even greater. In these situations, however, the law provides the victim’s family with some recourse for their terrible loss. State law defines a "wrongful death" as one in which a party caused the death of someone due to negligent, reckless, intention, or even criminal conduct or acts.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation. An experienced wrongful death attorney at Tate Law Group, LLC can help you understand your rights and whether or not you are entitled to file a lawsuit against the person(s) who are responsible for the death of your loved one.
We are experienced in handling wrongful death cases that involve:
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Dangerous prescription drugs
- Airplane accidents
- Defective products
- Hazardous conditions
The Savannah wrongful death attorneys of Tate Law Group, LLC are here for you and your family during this difficult time. Call (912) 333-3915 for your free consultation.
Conflicting Emotions During the Legal Process
When a family makes the decision to proceed with a monetary claim for the wrongful death of a loved one, ambivalent feelings are often intensely felt. No sum of money can bring back their loved one and, sometimes, the family has feelings of guilt, perhaps because they feel like they are putting a price on a person’s life.
Unfortunately, a monetary award is the only way civil law can recognize the value of the victim’s life, compensate for the death and subsequent losses, and penalize the party or parties who are responsible. We understand you may have mixed feelings, but we will always do our best to get justice for your loss in the eyes of the law.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
The statutes of the state of Georgia delineate specific family members that can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In Georgia, a wrongful death lawsuit can be pursued by a victim's surviving spouse. If there are minor children, they are represented in a wrongful death case through the surviving spouse. A spouse is entitled to a minimum of one-third of the total recovery in a wrongful death lawsuit, no matter how many children may exist.
If there is no surviving spouse, but there are children, they can bring a wrongful death suit themselves. In the case of minor children, a qualified adult must bring the case on their behalf. Adult children can pursue a lawsuit on their own. If there is no surviving spouse or children, surviving parents of the victim can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
In the event that no such family members exist, the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In such a situation, the lawsuit is brought to benefit the heirs of the deceased individual, as set forth in that individual’s last will and testament or by operation of Georgia state law.
Will a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Affect Probate?
When an individual dies, their estate goes into probate. Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit coincides with the probate process, so the two may not affect the outcome of one another. While an individual may be excluded from receiving payments from the settlement of a wrongful death suit, they may still be named a beneficiary in the will. Likewise, if someone is not named in the will, he or she may still be eligible to make a claim in a wrongful death lawsuit.
What You Must Prove in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When filing wrongful death claims, survivors must show that:
- The defendant (one being sued) caused the death (in part or completely) of the victim
- The defendant is either responsible for the victim’s death through negligence or strict liability
- The spouse, beneficiaries or dependents of the victim are alive
- The victim’s death has resulted in monetary losses, hence the need for compensation
The standard of proof is defined by the type of case. The reason for the fatality has bearing on how accountability is proven. In negligence cases, the plaintiffs must show what reckless act the defendant performed.
Time Limits for Filing a Wrongful Death Case
Georgia law includes what is known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations sets forth the timeframe within which a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed. The deadline for filing this type of lawsuit is two years in Georgia. Failing to pursue a case within this amount of time could prevent a family member from obtaining relief.
Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death lawsuits most commonly often involve fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and dangerous and defective products. While individuals are sometimes targeted as the responsible parties, corporations and even government agencies can also be held accountable for contributing to a wrongful death. In fact, one incident can result in wrongful death claims being filed against multiple entities.
For example, let's say a car accident involved both a faulty road and an intoxicated driver. Under these circumstances, the family of the victim might name several defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit. This could include the drunk driver, the designer of the road, and even the area’s transportation department for not marking the road as hazardous. The bartender — as well as the bar itself — could also be named for over-serving the drunk driver.
Some state laws may establish immunity against wrongful death lawsuits under special circumstances, which can include government agencies, corporations, and individuals. An example of this is the case of Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., Inc. v. Bartlett — which determined that manufacturers of generic drugs cannot be held liable in either product liability or wrongful death lawsuits in which the FDA has already approved the name brand drug.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
With regard to respect for the value of human life, Georgia’s wrongful death statute is one of the best in the United States. In Georgia, the measure of damages for wrongful death is the full value of the life of the deceased.
The damages include those that are tangible (e.g., projected lifetime income, with no deduction for living expenses or income taxes, value of services, etc.) and intangible, such as the enjoyment of the experience of living. Georgia does not impose a statutory formula or arbitrary limit on the damages awarded in a wrongful death case.
There are three types of damages that survivors can recover in a wrongful death case. They include:
Economic damages provide compensation for tangible financial losses, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical and hospital bills for end-of-life care
- Loss of the expected earnings of the victim
- Loss of benefits like medical coverage or pension plans of the victim
- Loss of inheritance due to the unexpected death of the victim
Non-economic damages are harder to quantify, but can include compensation for:
- Loss of companionship, society, and love from the deceased
- Loss of the protection, care, advice, guidance, and nurturing from the deceased
- Pain and suffering or mental anguish endured by the deceased’s survivors
These damages are given to punish the defendant for his or her conduct. While some states do not award these damages in wrongful death claims, in some cases, treble damages may be recovered. Treble damages are three times the actual damages and are mainly recovered against elderly homes for the abuse or death of senior victims.
How Are Damages Calculated for a Wrongful Death?
Economic damages are generally calculated in a straightforward way. Non-economic aspects are more complicated, as they assign a dollar value to intangible areas – such as the care a homemaker provides inside the home or pain and suffering from the loss. Economists, psychologists, and actuators may be used to help assign a proper value.
Learn More in a Free & Confidential Consultation
At Tate Law Group, LLC, we understand that this is one of the most difficult times a family can face. We are here to help in any way we can, and our goal is to make this legal process as easy as possible. We want no more pain to fall on the family members who come to us for counsel. No matter how difficult the road before you may be, know that we are here beside you every step of the way. Give us a call today to learn more about your options.
There are ways to hold those responsible accountable for what happened. Contact our wrongful death lawyers at Tate Law Group, LLC in Savannah today at (912) 333-3915.
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The Tate Law Group is an award-winning, nationally-recognized firm with memberships in the Milion Dollar Advocates Forum, the International Society of Primerus Law Firms & more.
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The Tate Law Group has fought for many successful verdicts & settlements, including many record-setting results in Georgia & South Carolina.
We have litigated hundreds of cases and recovered damages totalling over $100 million for our clients in numerous courts of law since 2007.
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Georgia Industrial Disaster Recovery $13,100,000
Chatham County Jury Verdict $10,000,000
Nationwide Pharmaceutical Liability Resolution $5,000,000
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Medical Malpractice Verdict $3,900,000
Personal Injury Involving Traumatic Brain Injuries $2,300,000
Maine Wrongful Death Recovery $2,200,000
Georgia Industrial Disaster Recovery $2,100,000
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