If you have recently lost a loved one, due to another’s negligence, you may be owed substantial compensation, especially if there will be a loss in terms of income. Medical malpractice with a surgery going wrong or car accident fatalities due to the negligence of a drunk or distracted driver are typical examples of a scenario where it may be appropriate for you to file a wrongful death suit.
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In many cases, the surviving spouse files the wrongful death claim, but under Georgia law, if there is not a surviving spouse or even any heirs, parents of the person who died or a representative for the estate may file the claim. If a spouse files the claim, and there are children from the marriage, the spouse will receive at least one-third of the recovery. A spouse’s one-third recovery does not change regardless of the number of children born to the couple.
If you think you may have a wrongful death claim, begin by consulting a wrongful death lawyer from the offices of H. Lehman Franklin, P.C. They will examine the facts of your case to help you explore your options and determine if you have a possible wrongful death cause of action. Although taking legal action over your loved one’s death may leave you feeling conflicted initially, if your husband or wife has been killed, and they were primarily responsible for the household income, your financial future may depend on you seeking legal action.
One question you may have if you decide to file a wrongful death action is how damages for the loss of your loved one are calculated. In Georgia, damages are awarded based on the full value of the decedent’s life, as shown by the evidence. What this means is that damages are awarded based on the full value of the decedent’s life without deducting any of the decedent’s necessary or personal expenses had they lived. Full value of life is ultimately composed of two elements, the economic value of the decedent’s life expectancy and an intangible element incapable of exact economic value.
For a jury to establish the proper amount of economic damages, there must be sufficient evidence from which a jury can determine what age the decedent was when they died and what the decedent’s life expectancy would have been. This information, combined with evidence of the decedent’s yearly income or value of services, allows for the economic value of the decedent’s life to be calculated. Once calculated, the jury will then take the amount attributed to the decedent’s economic value and reduce it to present cash value. The jury may then, in its enlightened conscious, grant an award for an additional sum comprised of the intangibles of the decedent’s life. It is certainly not unfair to consider the negligent party responsible for paying for a wide range of costs and other damages.
This type of lawsuit is extremely sensitive but may be critical to help surviving heirs, along with paying damages for funeral expenses and more. However, there can be some complications in the wrongful death suit, such as time limits and proving that the defendant’s actions were responsible for the death of your family member. Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations for filing wrongful death actions, unless exceptions apply. What this means is that as a general rule, you have two years from the day your loved one died to file a claim. Exceptions may apply to the general rule however. Attempts to file a claim once the statute of limitations has expired are barred. For this reason, it is vital that you contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible if you think you may have a wrongful death claim.
With over 30 years of experience in accidental and personal injury practice, we will help you get the compensation you deserve. Speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney from the offices of H. Lehman Franklin, P.C. Call now to learn more at 912-764-9616, or contact us online.