Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, Atlanta wrongful death lawyer Terrence R. Bethune can help you assert your legal rights. Having represented victims in injury cases since 1997, Mr. Bethune we can investigate the events that led to your family member’s death, and seek to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Families Have a Claim
Whether a traffic accident or some other incident took your loved one’s life, people who are responsible for the death of another person can he held accountable. In the event of a person’s death, Georgia law allows for the family of the decedent to file a wrongful death lawsuit, in which the family may seek damages meant to compensate them for the death. Although money cannot bring back a lost loved one, it is the only non-criminal remedy our system provides.
The Georgia wrongful death statute allows only certain family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The decedent’s spouse;
- Any surviving children;
- Parents of the decedent; or
- The administrator of the estate on behalf of next of kin.
Each of these family members retains the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in succession, contingent upon there being no live person with priority. In other words, the decedent’s surviving spouse has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Only if there is no surviving spouse, the decedent’s children have the right to file suit, and only if there are no children, parents of the decedent have the right to file.
Generally, the family has two years from the date the decedent passed away to file suit. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it is in your best interest to seek advice from an attorney as soon as practicable after the death of a family member. Missing this deadline could mean that the entire lawsuit will be thrown out of court.
The underlying allegations of a wrongful death lawsuit are often the same as other injury suits. For instance, a wrongful death lawsuit that alleges negligence must prove the same elements as an ordinary negligence lawsuit: The defendant owed a duty to the decedent to act with reasonable care; the defendant breached that duty; and the defendant’s actions were a cause of the decedent's death.
Georgia Law Allows for Recovery
Wrongful death plaintiffs can recover extensive damages. Georgia law allows claimants to recover an amount that represents the full value of the decedent’s life. This usually means recovering economic damages for lifetime wages as well as noneconomic damages intended to compensate for the enjoyment of the life the decedent would have lived. Punitive damages are not allowed in Georgia wrongful death lawsuits.
An important distinction in the law is the difference between the family’s wrongful death lawsuit and what is called a survival lawsuit. The decedent’s estate can file a survival action if the decedent suffered injuries and died later. Even if a personal injury lawsuit has already been filed, and the decedent subsequently dies, the original lawsuit can be kept on file along with a new wrongful death lawsuit. Compensatory and punitive damages are available in a survival lawsuit.
Trust Your Case to an Experienced Lawyer
Monetary damages can never fully compensate a family for the loss of a loved one, but it is important to hold those responsible for needless deaths accountable for their actions. Atlanta wrongful death attorney Terrence R. Bethune has been representing Georgians since 1997, and can help you if you have lost a family member due to another person’s negligence. Call (404) 875-7800 or visit our contact page to speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney.