By: William C. Head, Wrongful Death Lawyer Near Me in Atlanta Georgia
Georgia is a "common law" state, meaning that our state's underlying roots for civil and criminal justice are grounded in old English law. Other states like Louisiana and California were founded using principles of French and Spanish laws, respectively, and have laws that may differ substantially from a common law state like Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Under common law, a deceased person could not sue by making a wrongful death claim. Because the world has changed dramatically since medieval days, and become very complex, highly mobile and industrialized, modern society could not function without the Georgia wrongful death statute that provides for a means of compensation for an unlawful death. If no means of settling such cases existed, America would have thousands of vigilante killings once a tragic (but avoidable) accident or intentional crime occurred.
So, the State of Georgia enacted statutes that supplanted the common law rule. This provided a statutory "cause of action" for close family members (or the estate) of a deceased person. Using these statutes, the claimants can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The Georgia wrongful death law is embodied in two primary statutes, OCGA 53-2-1 and O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2.
Negligent parties can be sued by the spouse, children or surviving parents of the decedent. Our laws call for a jury to award the "full value of the life" of that wrongfully killed person, in death cases.
At trial, the wrongful death law firm will bring in witnesses who were close to the victim. These people "paint a picture" of the full life the victim. Our wrongful death lawyers then ask a jury to do the RIGHT thing and permit this family to recover the full measure of damages. This jury verdict can include pain and suffering, lost future value from projected lifetime earnings and other categories of financial recovery.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Georgia?
Before jumping into the Georgia definition of wrongful death, getting a broad view may help. No single, global wrongful death definition exists. However, these three online unlawful death definitions from informational sites, taken together, may clear up the picture for most people:
“[D]enoting a civil action in which damages are sought against a party for causing a death, typically when criminal action has failed or is not attempted.” (from Wikipedia)
This snippet from a FindLaw search result gives a clearer picture of the setting in which a wrongful death suit may be undertaken
“Wrongful death is a civil claim filed against those who are liable for someone's death, whether it's intentional or accidental.”
Lastly, from Law.com is this more comprehensive attempt to define wrongful death:
- the death of a human being as the result of a wrongful act of another person. Such wrongful acts included: negligence (like careless driving), an intentional act such as assault and/or battery, a death in the course of another crime, vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter or murder. Wrongful death is the basis for a lawsuit (wrongful death action) against the party or parties who caused the death filed on behalf of the members of the family who have lost the company and support of the deceased.
In the state of Georgia, our state statutes entirely control the applicability of our wrongful death laws. These printed words, as interpreted through appellate decisions by the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court, frame our state's definition of how and where our legal provisions permit wrongful death claims.
What Are the Time Limits to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
A wrongful death case (under Georgia law) must be started by a wrongful death lawyer filing a civil complaint seeking the types of damages recoverable in such litigation. Several other factors like pending, related criminal charges against the at fault parties, or claims of underage minors for loss of a parent can extend the statute of limitations.
Filing suit entails serving the complaint by sheriff's delivery (or other approved means), within two years, as the general rule. Our personal injury attorneys don't want to ever get close to that time deadline, due to the risk of having an inability to go forward with the litigation.
Call Our Wrongful Death Law Firm For Immediate Information Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Remember that the family of the person who died is who is legally entitled to file a civil claim for “the full value of the life of the decedent.” For a variety of reasons, such as emotional trauma from losing a key family member, uncertainty, or fear of the legal justice system, many viable claims go unfiled. No matter if it is indecision on litigating or ambivalence on starting a claim, letting time pass is often destructive to your claim.
Some excellent claims are not investigated and moved forward in a timely manner. Not filing a civil suit within the applicable 2-year statute of limitations often bars your claim. However, if a grandmother of minor children has not pursued a wrongful death action, the statute may be tolled (extended) for those claimants.
When searching for wrongful death attorneys near me, focus on legal industry credentials. When an experienced litigation attorney has accumulated dozens of attorney ratings accolades and highest rankings from Martindale-Hubbell, Best Law Firms in America, Best Lawyer in America and Super Lawyers, that is your starting point. Few Georgia attorneys have over 40 annual recognitions for excellence, but the author has over 50.
Dial our number 24-7. 404-567-5515.
Our Atlanta attorneys will be back in touch immediately, to review your case, and assess the immediate needs for investigating the wrongful death case. Every claim is different, but our personal injury law firm satisfaction guaranteed methodology is to approach the potential litigation as if this was being done for OUR FAMILY member. FREE lawyer consultation at one of our four metro Atlanta Georgia locations, or your home.
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