Prematurely losing a loved one causes intense pain. The disappointment is only intensified when someone else’s negligence contributed to the death.
When an intentional, reckless, or careless act causes a fatal accident, the deceased person’s family could hold the wrongdoer accountable for their loss. A wrongful death lawsuit could provide financial compensation for the expenses and losses related to the accidental death. Even more importantly, it allows a family to force the negligent party to take responsibility for their actions.
If you have recently lost a loved one in an accident, speak with a Lithia Springs wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. A local personal injury attorney from our firm could explain the legal options available to your family and help you seek compensation for your loss.
Distinction Between Criminal Proceedings and Wrongful Death Actions
Sometimes an accidental death gives rise to criminal charges. A family does not need to wait for criminal proceedings to conclude before bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, as the wrongful death claim is independent of any criminal charges the wrongdoer might face.
If the person whose actions led to the death faces criminal charges, a prosecutor must prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor is successful, the wrongdoer might face jail time. On the other hand, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action, and the remedy available is financial compensation for survivors. A Lithia Springs family’s wrongful death attorney must prove by a preponderance of evidence that another’s party negligence caused a fatal accident. If the family proves their case, then the wrongdoer must pay damages.
Wrongful Death Often Results From an Accident
Not every accidental death is a wrongful death according to the law. In the legal sense, wrongful death is a death that results from someone else’s negligent or reckless act. Many wrongful death lawsuits arise from:
- Workplace accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Car, truck, and motorcycle wrecks
- Explosions, fires, and other industrial disasters
- Slip and falls and other premises liability issues
A bereaved family could consult a Lithia Springs accident attorney to discover whether the incident that claimed their loved one could form the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit. If so, the family has two years from their loved one’s death to file suit.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Procedures
A wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a personal injury claim that the victim could have pursued if had they lived. However, there are some key differences. A dedicated Lithia Springs attorney could explain how the law governing wrongful death lawsuits might impact a specific family.
The Official Code of Georgia § 51-4-2 determines who may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If there is a surviving spouse, they must be the one to file the suit. If an unmarried decedent has surviving children, they could also bring the claim. When the decedent did not leave a spouse or children, a parent could be the plaintiff in a wrongful death action. If there are no close family members, the estate’s administrator could file.
The damages the family receives in a wrongful death action compensate for the loss of the deceased person’s financial contributions to the household. They include the decedent’s prospective earnings over the rest of their working life as well as the value of their domestic services. A family might also receive compensation for the loss of the decedent’s opportunity to enjoy their life and reach their full potential.
Distributing Lawsuit Proceeds
The law determines who may receive the proceeds of a wrongful death lawsuit. When the decedent left a spouse but no children, the spouse receives everything. When there is a surviving spouse and one child, the spouse and child split the proceeds. If there is a surviving spouse and multiple children, the spouse receives at least one-third of the proceeds, and the other two-thirds is divided equally between the children. If the decedent left no spouse or children, the proceeds would go to the decedent’s parents or be divided between the decedent’s heirs.
Seek Compensation for a Wrongful Death With a Lithia Springs Attorney
When you lose a loved one because of another person’s carelessness or recklessness, bringing a wrongful death lawsuit might help your family move forward. Although money could never make up for the loss of a life, it could bring you a sense of closure and justice.
A Lithia Springs wrongful death lawyer could assess whether you and your family have grounds to take legal action after your loved one’s death. With over 25 years of experience inside the justice system, Attorney Robert James is not afraid to go to trial and fight for justice after tragedy strikes. Call today to discuss your case with our compassionate team.