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Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer
Wrongful death occurs when negligent or criminal acts lead to loss of life. Surviving family members, in addition to the devastating emotional trauma, are often left with a plethora of medical bills and funeral expenses on top of a sudden loss of financial support. So not only are family members left to grieve the loss of their loved one, but they’re in many cases, also forced into a hopeless state of financial doom. Seeking fair compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit is possible in situations like this. An Atlanta wrongful death lawyer at Ashenden & Associates can help surviving loved ones navigate their new complicated reality of grief and financial hardship.
If your loved one died due to a car accident, a defective product, a premises liability violation, or hazardous work conditions, Atlanta wrongful death lawyers at our law firm will provide the appropriate empathy and can help you recover financial compensation. Call 770-394-8909 to schedule a free legal consultation today.
What is Wrongful Death?
According to Georgia law (Ga. Code § 51-4-1), wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of negligence, criminal activity, defective products, and/or an unsafe premises. Surviving family members have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person in order to recover compensation.
Wrongful death cases are similar to personal injury cases in that they share a goal of restoring the victim’s life back to its pre-accident state. Obviously, the main difference between the two types of torts is that, in a wrongful death claim, the victim is deceased. Still, the goal is to – as much as possible – restore the family’s life back to the way it was before the victim’s death through financial compensation from the responsible party. No amount of money can bring the deceased person back to life, but it can provide the victim’s family with some sort of financial stability after such a tragic loss.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
There are several types of wrongful acts that can lead to a wrongful death case. Below, Atlanta wrongful death lawyers at Ashenden & Associates break down the most common causes of wrongful death.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
One of the most common causes of wrongful death are motor vehicle accidents, with almost 43,000 lives lost in 2021 alone according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Motor vehicle accidents include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Boat accidents
- Bus accidents
You have grounds to sue if your loved one’s wrongful death was caused by someone else’s negligence on the roads. Drunk driving and distracted driving are two of the most obvious examples of negligence that occur on the roads every single day.
The at-fault party’s insurance company may cover some of the damages, or if the at-fault party was uninsured, the loved one or the loved one’s family may have insurance coverage which could cover the damages. In both scenarios, families could file a wrongful death suit in order to seek compensation for their loss.
If your loved one’s life was claimed by a car accident caused by negligence, call an Atlanta wrongful death attorney at Ashenden & Associates. We can help you obtain closure and justice.
Hazardous Work Conditions
Hazardous work conditions can also result in wrongful death. This is a daily occurrence in some of the most dangerous fields, such as construction, logging, mining, roofing, electrical repair, and more. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration claims that 4,764 Americans died on the job in 2020 alone. Georgia workers’ compensation may provide minimal damages for funeral expenses, but not much more.
Be sure to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney at Ashenden Law to determine whether workers’ compensation and/or a wrongful death claim is the best course of action.
Defective products like children’s toys, car parts, beauty products, medical devices, medications, food products, and electronics can also be deadly, even when these products are used as they were designed or intended to be used. When someone dies as a result of a defective product, surviving family members can sue designers, manufacturers, and/or distributors in order to recover compensatory, and actual damages. In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded.
Medical Malpractice Incidents
Tragically, thousands of Americans die at the hands of negligent doctors, nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, chiropractors, and pharmacists every single year. Some medical experts even believe that medical mistakes are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S.
Common examples of medical malpractice include:
- Medication errors
- Diagnostic errors
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Chiropractic spinal adjustment errors
- Epidural errors
- Birth injuries
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- And so much more
If you believe that medical malpractice played a role in your loved one’s death, you can seek financial compensation under Georgia’s wrongful death law. Be sure to contact one of our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys at Ashenden & Associates today.
Premises liability violations occur when a building or a piece of property is unsafe, and as a result, a personal injury or wrongful death happens. Common examples of premises liability violations include:
- Wet and/or slippery floors
- Broken stairs and/or handrails
- Broken elevators or escalators
- Water leaks and flooding
- Toxic chemicals and fumes
- Poor building security
- Fire hazards
Dog attacks, swimming pool accidents, amusement park accidents, and slip and fall accidents generally fall under the legal category of premises liability as well. All of these dangerous conditions and accidents can definitely result in wrongful death. As a result, families can file a wrongful death case against the property owner in question.
Criminal acts such as domestic violence, assault and battery, theft crimes, sex crimes, murder, and more can lead to wrongful death. This criminal behavior can warrant both criminal and civil claims against the responsible parties. The goal of criminal cases is to punish, and in many cases, put the responsible party behind bars. Meanwhile, the goal of civil claims is to compensate the family left behind.
Violent crimes can be premises liability cases as well. The owners and occupiers of buildings and businesses have a duty to provide a safe and secure environment for customers and tenants. Their duty includes preventing violent crimes on their premises.
If your loved one’s death was caused by a criminal act, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. An Atlanta wrongful death attorney can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive justice for your grief.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Georgia state law allows the following parties to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The victim’s spouse.
- If there’s no surviving spouse, then the surviving child(ren) can file.
- If there’s no surviving spouse or child(ren), then the victim’s parents can file.
- If there are no surviving parents, spouse, or children, then the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file.
Georgia law states that no other surviving family member (such as a sibling, grandparent, cousin, etc.) can file a wrongful death lawsuit. It must be one of the aforementioned parties.
If the personal representative of the decedent’s estate files a wrongful death claim, then all recoverable damages must go to the estate. From there, the decedent’s next of kin can receive the damages.
Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Claim
Proving negligence is essential in a successful wrongful death claim. Atlanta wrongful death lawyers at Ashenden & Associates can help you prove the following elements of negligence:
- Duty of Care: Every single person owes each other a specific duty of care. For example, doctors are required to abide by a medical standard of care. This basically means that everyone must be careful in their day-to-day actions in order to keep each other safe.
- Breached Duty of Care: The responsible party breached this duty of care.
- Causation: As a result of the breached duty of care, the victim suffered fatal injuries.
- Damages: The victim’s family suffered a wide variety of damages for which they deserve fair compensation.
Wrongful Death Damages
Atlanta wrongful death attorneys can help family members recover financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages of the deceased person
- Emotional distress of the family members
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial costs
Family members can sometimes seek punitive damages in a wrongful death claim. Punitive damages exist moreso to punish the at-fault party, and less to compensate the victim.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims
Similar to most other torts, wrongful death lawsuits have a set statute of limitations. In Georgia, surviving family members have two years from the date of the wrongful death to file a lawsuit. If they wait longer than two years to file, then their case could be dismissed.
Georgia wrongful death laws pause or “toll” the statute of limitations in the following situations:
- The death was the result of a criminal act. As previously stated, both criminal and civil cases can be filed after a wrongful death. Both types of cases can easily complicate each other. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case starts running again once a criminal case is completed. Surviving family members have two years from the day the criminal case ended to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
- The deceased person’s estate has not gone through the probate process. In cases like this, the wrongful death statute of limitations in Georgia is paused for up to five years.
Call an Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer at Ashenden & Associates Today
If your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for wrongful death compensation in Georgia. An Atlanta wrongful death lawyer will carefully review the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death, accurately calculate damages, protect your legal rights, and help you determine the best course of action. Our legal team will handle the entire legal process so that you and your family put your concerns about obtaining full and fair compensation for the loss of your loved one on our shoulders as you go through the process of grieving. Call our law firm at 770-394-8909 to schedule a free case evaluation with an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer today.