Douglasville, GA Wrongful Death Attorney
The tragic and unexpected loss of a loved one, whether it occurs in a car accident, on the job, or on someone’s premises, is devastating for surviving family members. The emotional toll these unexpected deaths have on families is often made worse by the unanswered questions and financial stress and strain that arise in the aftermath.
In Georgia, wrongful death claims are causes of action formed by statute, which means these claims are prudent based on laws created by Georgia’s legislative body. Because these cases require many components, it is crucial to hire a wrongful death lawyer with the right experience to handle these types of claims.
The Douglasville, GA law firm of Sherrod & Bernard, P.C. helps surviving families take action when someone’s recklessness or negligence costs another person their life. Our attorneys understand how tragic the loss of your loved one is to you, your family, and our Douglasville community. That’s why we are committed to putting all of our resources to work for you to seek the answers and compensation that your family is owed.
Our compassionate and knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys are here to sit down with you to evaluate your case and discuss all of the legal options that are available to you. Our consultations are always free, and we won’t collect anything unless we win your case. Schedule your consultation by calling us or contacting us online today.
- 1 Georgia’s Wrongful Death Statute
- 2 Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
- 3 Compensation for Families After an Accident
- 4 What Do You Have to Prove in a Claim?
- 5 Common Wrongful Death Claims
- 6 Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Cases in Georgia
- 7 How Can an Injury Law Firm Help Your Family?
- 8 Contact an Experienced Douglasville Wrongful Death Attorney
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Statute
Georgia defines wrongful death as the wrongful actions of another that cause another human being to lose their life. Georgia Code 51-4 provides details about wrongful death suits, including who may bring action and what actions constitute willful negligence.
Generally, wrongful death can stem from:
- Careless operation of motorized transportation
- Intentional attacks (such as battery or assault)
- A death that occurs in the course of an unrelated crime
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Workplace accidents
- Medical misconduct
- Premises liabilities
- Any action where a duty of care to the deceased existed
The parents of minor children who were killed during a homicide may be entitled to compensation payable under Georgia Code 19-7-1. Several elements must be proven in all wrongful death cases.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Under Georgia’s wrongful death statute, surviving spouses of decedents are generally given priority in filing a wrongful death action. Surviving children may also be entitled to a share of the benefits. If the decedent was divorced, surviving children may jointly file their claim and each be entitled to equal shares of any compensation.
If the deceased had no spouse or surviving children, parents who survived their adult child may bring an action against the at-fault party. In the event no immediate relative survives the decedent, the estate of that person can file a lawsuit against the negligent party.
Unlike wrongful death, where the value of the decedent’s life is the basis for compensation, an estate claim arises when expenses are incurred by the deceased’s estate due to their sudden death.
Compensation for Families After an Accident
One of the most challenging components of wrongful death claims relates to calculating the value of damages. An experienced attorney can handle these calculations, although the process may take some time.
One method of calculating compensation is based on the decedent’s annual salary, plus any retirement accounts with matching contributions, their health care, and any perks which were used to care for their family. Those financials are multiplied by the number of years the deceased would have continued working.
Another form of monetary loss is noneconomic. By taking into account the life expectancy of the deceased and factoring in time with a spouse and children — along with the stress and emotional toll the family must endure — the attorney can come up with a number that tries to compensate the family for their loss.
If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, the case may go to trial. There, jurors may hear testimony from family, friends, coworkers, physicians, and anyone who had intimate knowledge of the deceased, cared for them in any capacity, or saw them enough to provide insight into how much they contributed.
The members of the jury will have to decide if the defendant’s actions caused the person’s death and will decide what compensation should be awarded to the surviving family members.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Claim?
Four elements go into proving wrongful death claims: duty to care, breach of that duty, causation, and monetary damages. The following looks at each one individually to provide insight as to what your wrongful death lawyer must prove:
- Duty of care – Decedents who were killed by the actions of someone else usually were owed a duty of due care. Georgia defines “due care” as the responsibility to act prudently or refrain from taking action that could jeopardize the wellbeing of another. In wrongful death cases, attorneys will need to prove the negligent party’s actions would have foreseeably dire consequences and deviated from how a reasonable person would act under similar circumstances.
- Breach of duty – The claimant must prove the negligent party breached their duty to care. Breaches are proven by the details of the incident surrounding the wrongful death, such as the driver’s inability to remain focused on the road, an employer failing to keep a workplace safe, or a hotel neglecting security.
- Causation – Once there’s enough evidence the breach occurred, a claimant must link that breach to the wrongful death. Causation can be complex.
- Awarding of damages – After the first three components are proven, damages will be calculated based on actual losses caused by the defendant. It’s possible to prove breach of duty and causation without proving damages. In that scenario, compensation would not be awarded.
The at-fault party or their insurance company may choose to fight back against a wrongful death claim to avoid paying you the compensation you are owed. Some common arguments they make to dispute civil claims include:
- The deceased participated in activities that led to their fatal injuries.
- The claim was not brought within Georgia’s statute of limitations.
- The deceased knew the risks of their actions and took them anyway (assumption of risk).
- The deceased was over 50 percent contributorily negligent, which negates the surviving family’s right to compensation in Georgia.
- There was no evidence of negligence on the defendant’s part.
Each case has its own merits and weaknesses, which is why retaining a wrongful death attorney is important.
Common Wrongful Death Claims
With more than 75 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Sherrod & Bernard, P.C. know how to successfully secure compensation for family members who have lost loved ones in cases such as:
- Car accidents – Across America, hundreds of thousands of people lose their lives due to negligent drivers. We are prepared to fight insurers, ride-share companies, and any third parties to prove your wrongful death case.
- Truck accidents – Tractor-trailers weigh 80,000 pounds or more fully loaded, and truck drivers who are fatigued or distracted can cause serious crashes that result in wrongful death. Multiple parties could be liable for your loved one’s death in a truck wreck.
- Motorcycle accidents – When drivers fail to notice motorcycles on the road or if they fail to drive with caution near them, fatal accidents can occur.
- Medical malpractice – Georgians can lose their lives when surgeons and doctors fail in their duty to care for patients.
- Defective products – Dangerous pharmaceuticals, defective toys, poorly built automobiles, and other consumer products cause wrongful deaths in Georgia every year.
- Workplace accidents – Each year, accidents on construction sites, high-risk manufacturing environments, and ship and barge accidents result in fatal injuries. These cases may be tougher than others to fight because evidence can be destroyed or covered up quickly by the employer, so make sure to take immediate action to make sure that justice is served.
Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Cases in Georgia
Because the wrongful death statute in Georgia imposes a two-year statute of limitations from the time of death, it’s important to file your case as soon as possible.
Families know that Sherrod & Bernard, P.C. wastes no time investigating your case and taking immediate action. Therefore, it’s imperative you talk to us as soon as possible after your family has put your loved one to rest. Let us handle the legal matters while your family focuses on grieving and adapting to life after the loss of your relative.
How Can an Injury Law Firm Help Your Family?
While an attorney cannot bring your loved one back, they will work diligently to seek that all liable parties will be held accountable. No amount of money can replace the companionship and support provided by your loved one. However, your family could receive compensation that will make sure that you don’t suffer additional financial strain on top of your grief.
When you hire an experienced wrongful death attorney, your legal team will:
- Identify long-term needs that are caused by the loved one’s death.
- Settle claims as fairly and quickly as possible with insurers and other responsible parties.
- Prepare for trial in the event the case is not settled.
- Ease the burden by handling all legal affairs.
- Gather information relevant to your claim and help find additional pieces of evidence when and where possible.
- Work alongside the deceased’s estate if there’s an interest expressed by its executor.
Families face a difficult, uphill battle in going after insurers and other negligent parties on their own. That’s why it is critical to hire a law firm with the right experience to handle your case. You should be focused on grieving your loved one and supporting your family through this difficult time. Let your attorney handle the legal legwork.
Contact an Experienced Douglasville Wrongful Death Attorney
The Douglasville wrongful death lawyers of Sherrod & Bernard, P.C. understand the emotional toll deaths have on families. Spouses are often left wondering how they’ll care for minor children, siblings are lost without their brother or sister, and parents who survive their children are devastated when they must bury their child. No parent, spouse, or sibling should have to endure this pain.
Let us take your wrongful death claim and fight until your family is made whole. Though no amount of money will ever replace your loved one, we’ll fight to get you the money you need and deserve to help you through this difficult time. Many grieving families find comfort in the fact that a wrongful death claim can provide a measure of justice on the decedent’s behalf.
Contact Sherrod & Bernard, P.C. to schedule your wrongful death case review today. There are no fees for our consultation, and you’ll pay us nothing unless and until we win your case.