When a person is injured through the negligent, intentional, or criminal acts of another, he or she can sue the wrongdoer in order to recover compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, and property damage that was incurred as a result of the injuries. Sometimes the injured person is not lucky enough to survive the injuries, and passes away. In these cases, the wrongdoer can still be sued in a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by a parent, spouse, child, or the estate of the deceased person against one person, or multiple people, or the entities responsible for the death. The case is generally proven in the same way it would have been proven if the person who suffered the injuries had survived. The person bringing the wrongful death lawsuit also has to show that the person or people being sued caused the injuries responsible for the deceased’s death.
The compensation, legally referred to as damages, that is recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit is slightly different from what would have been recovered in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, damages for future medical care are not recoverable because it is no longer applicable. However, the surviving spouse, parent, or child can recover damages for the loss of income from the deceased. Spouses and children can also sue for the loss of companionship or care.
Wrongful death lawsuits, like personal injury lawsuits, have to be filed within a certain period of time known as a statute of limitations. In Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years from the time of death for most wrongful death lawsuits. There are some situations in which this time period may be extended.
If the wrongful death lawsuit is based on a criminal act such as a homicide, the lawsuit is not barred by the fact that the wrongdoer is not convicted of the crime. The standard of proof required to find a person guilty in a criminal case is higher than that required to find the person responsible in a civil lawsuit. It is best to follow the advice of your attorney when deciding whether to wait until the criminal case is finished before filing a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death lawsuit can also be filed by the personal estate of the deceased, through its representative. This kind of lawsuit is usually brought to cover expenses the estate faces. The personal representative does not keep the proceeds of the lawsuit for himself. If the person who causes the death of the deceased also dies before the statute of limitations has passed, the wrongful death lawsuit can go forward against that person’s estate.
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If your loved one passed away as a result of the negligent, intentional, or criminal actions of another person, you may have a claim for wrongful death. While suing the responsible party for compensation will not bring back your loved one, it may bring some closure and a sense of justice if you hold the person accountable for their actions. To discuss if you may bring a lawsuit for wrongful death, contact an experienced wrongful death attorney at the Atlanta, Georgia law firm of Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. today.