Wrongful Death Attorney In Smyrna GA
A legal wrong that causes damage to another is called a tort, and the right to collect damages for torts has long been established in courts nationwide. The right to sue for a tort, however, exists only as long as the injured party lives. statutes were created to give surviving family members a right to pursue legal action on behalf of a person who was killed by a negligent or intentional act. Because the right to sue for wrongful death exists only by statute, it is important to understand the wrongful death law in the state where the death occurred so that a proper claim can be made.
Best Wrongful Death Lawyer Smyrna Georgia
Limitations on Actions
The statute of limitations for wrongful death actions in Georgia is generally two years from the time of death. There are exceptions to this rule in certain criminal cases and when a governmental agency is involved because the statute of limitations may be shorter. In wrongful death actions, as in any personal injury claim, it is important to seek advice from an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action?
If the deceased person was married at the time of their death, their spouse is the only person who has the legal right to sue for wrongful death, even if the deceased person also had children. The spouse may sue on behalf of the children, but the children do not have a legal right to sue on their own if there is a surviving spouse. If there is no spouse, the deceased person's children may sue for wrongful death. Parents of a minor may bring a wrongful death action on behalf of their child.
Wrongful Death vs. Estate Claims
Georgia law allows two different types of claims against a person or entity who caused a wrongful death by negligence or an intentional act. The first type of claim is wrongful death which may be brought by surviving family members on their own behalf. The damages in a wrongful death action are calculated by determining the "full value" of a person's life. The first component includes the lost earning capacity of the person, including the value of non-compensated services that person would have performed, such as caring for children, taking care of a household, etc. The second component is harder to calculate and includes the love and companionship of the person, their presence in the everyday lives of their loved ones, and sharing milestones such as birthdays, weddings, and other significant life events.
The second type of action is called an estate claim. This claim is brought by the administrator of the deceased person's estate or the executor of their will. In most cases, the legal representative of the estate is also the surviving spouse or children but that may not always be the case. An estate claim covers the deceased person's medical bills, funeral expenses, and their pain and suffering. Damages in an estate claim are paid to the estate and distributed according to the person's will or the laws of succession if there is no will.
Smyrna Wrongful Death Law Firm
Wrongful Death and Criminal Acts
When a person is killed intentionally or when the responsible party's actions are so egregious as to rise to the level of criminal negligence, they may be charged with the crime of murder, manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide. For these crimes, the perpetrator may face criminal penalties such as incarceration, probation, and fines. A wrongful death action is brought in civil court and may take place in conjunction with a criminal trial, after a conviction, or even if the person is not found guilty.
The grief after losing a loved one is even more devastating when your loved one's death could have been prevented. If you believe your loved one has died due to someone's negligence or intentional act, you need an attorney who can advise you with competence and compassion. If someone you love has been the victim of gun violence, see our death and shooting cases page.
Brooks Injury Law Firm is dedicated to understanding the needs and struggles of injured persons and their families and helping them seek the compensation they need to rebuild their lives. Call us at (678) 813-2202 to arrange a free consultation.