Losing someone close to you is always a tragedy, but if you believe someone else was responsible for causing the death, it can be even more difficult to come to terms with the loss. At Christopher Simon Attorneys at Law, we are passionate about helping families achieve closure, justice and fair compensation in wrongful death cases. An Atlanta wrongful death attorney may be able to help your family as we have helped hundreds of others. Start your case with a free, confidential consultation at our local law office.
Why Choose Our Wrongful Death Attorneys?
We take each case seriously, treating all clients with equal respect and compassion.
We know how to go up against insurance companies and have been successful in doing so on behalf of our clients for decades.
We will provide outstanding customer service and one-on-one care through every phase of your case.
We accept claims in Atlanta, Georgia on a contingency fee basis, so your family does not have to worry about the price of hiring an attorney.
What Is the First Step to a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death suit in Georgia comes with many strict rules and statutes, as well as best practices for how to maximize your odds of success. Before you attempt the many steps it will take to bring and win your claim, hire an attorney for assistance. With hiring a lawyer as the first step in your claim, you will immediately improve your odds of securing a fair and just settlement award. An Atlanta wrongful death lawyer from our firm can use years of legal experience to represent your claim before an insurance adjuster, judge and/or jury.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Georgia’s laws are very specific about who can file a wrongful death claim. Certain surviving loved ones will have this right, as long as wrongful death occurred. The state’s definition of wrongful death is the death of one person by the criminal, reckless, intentional or negligent acts of another party. Common accidents that lead to wrongful death claims are car crashes, falls, workplace accidents, acts of violence and medical malpractice. If a surviving family member suspects wrongful death, he or she may be able to file a claim if the law permits.
The surviving spouse. The spouse of the deceased person will have the first right to bring a claim to court.
A surviving spouse may bring a claim on behalf of minor children, or adult children may bring the claim instead. If a spouse files on behalf of minors, the spouse must receive at least one-third of the total recovery, regardless of the number of children.
Surviving parents. If the deceased person did not have a spouse or children, the right to file passes to his or her parents.
Personal representative. The personal representative of the decedent’s estate may also file in lieu of a surviving spouse or child.
The personal representative of the estate may be a family member or a professional administrator. If the decedent named a representative in his or her will, this person will take over the role. Otherwise, a judge may assign a representative during probate court. The representative will seek damages on behalf of either surviving family members or the deceased person’s estate for distribution according to Georgia’s intestate succession laws. If you are not sure whether you have the right to file for wrongful death, ask an attorney.
How Long Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
It is understandable to want the wrongful death claims process to be as fast and efficient as possible. You and your family have been through a lot and wish to put the past behind you so you can focus on the future. Hiring an attorney can help you minimize the time it takes to finish your wrongful death claim. An Atlanta personal injury lawyer will make sure you fill out the paperwork correctly the first time to avoid any unnecessary delays.
The length of your wrongful death lawsuit will depend on the specifics of the case. If you are happy with the settlement an insurance company offers you and your family, you could settle your claim in as little as three months from start to finish. If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement and you need to take your case to court instead, it could take between one and four years to complete. The complexity of your case and your goals for its resolution can affect how long your case will take.
Although a wrongful death trial will take longer than a settlement, your family could receive significantly more money if you win. If maximum compensation is your number one goal, rather than a fast resolution, your attorney can help you go to court. If you would prefer to settle the matter quickly, but for potentially less money, your lawyer can help you negotiate a fair settlement instead. Work with your lawyer and express your goals for a legal process that suits your needs.
What Damages Could I Be Compensated For?
At Christopher Simon Attorneys at Law, we realize families do not only come to us for financial recovery. They want justice and peace of mind after devastating losses. However, we also recognize the immense relief it can bring a family to know from where the money for expenses such as medical bills and funeral costs will come. A successful wrongful death suit could reimburse your family – the deceased person’s beneficiaries – for costs such as lost wages and benefits, outstanding medical bills, loss of care and companionship, reasonable funeral and burial costs, and pain and suffering. The defendant may also owe you punitive damages for gross negligence or intent to harm your loved one.
Punitive damages serve to punish the defendant for wrongful acts rather than reimburse your family for losses. Not every wrongful death claim will receive punitive damages; in fact, they are relatively rare in the Georgia civil courts. However, if someone intentionally took your loved one’s life (i.e. in a murder, homicide or manslaughter case) or was guilty of gross negligence, a judge may award your family punitive damages in addition to a compensatory award. Your lawyer can help you pursue punitive damages by establishing that the defendant was grossly negligent, intentional, malicious or wanton in his or her actions and that this is what caused your loved one’s death.
What are The Statutes of Limitations for Wrongful Death?
Like all states, Georgia puts a time limit on how long a person will have to bring a claim before forfeiting the right to demand damages. These limits, known as statutes of limitations, are in place to motivate claimants to act while evidence is still available if they believe they have claims. You will have two years from the date of your family member’s untimely death (not necessarily the date of the fatal accident) to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia. Missing your deadline will most likely mean the courts in Atlanta refusing to hear your claim.
What Does “Survival Action” Mean?
The two types of civil claims a person could file after the death of a loved one in Georgia are wrongful death and survival actions. The goal of a wrongful death action is to reimburse surviving loved ones for the losses they suffered, while a survival action compensates a family for the losses the deceased person could have received had he or she been able to file an injury claim. Damages available in a survival action could include payments for the loved one’s pain and suffering and lost wages.
Your Wrongful Death Attorneys in Atlanta, GA!
Find out if you have grounds to file a claim and/or survival action in Atlanta after a fatal accident during a free consultation at Christopher Simon Attorneys at Law. A negligent driver, employer, product manufacturer, property owner, criminal or another party could owe your family compensation. Do not risk losing your chance to file by waiting too long to contact an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer. Speak with us today to immediately start work on your claim. Contact us online or call (404) 259-7635 for a free consultation.