Generally brought by the victim after an accident, a personal injury claim requires that you be able to show negligence, or wrong-doing, on the part of the defendant. You must also prove that the accident caused the injuries and damages for which you are seeking compensation. Once you have shown both that the defendant was negligent and caused your injuries and other damages, you may recover damages including:
Wrongful Death Claims
Although the process of bringing a wrongful death claim is similar to personal injury in many ways, the inability of the victim to bring his or her own case means that the deceased is typically represented by family members, though a representative of the estate may step in in the absence of family.
Georgia law is specific about who may bring a wrongful death suit. For instance, in the case of a spouse or parent’s death, the surviving spouse must bring the claim. In the absence of a surviving spouse, children may bring the suit. Only if the deceased does not have a spouse or child may the parents lodge a wrongful death claim. Claims brought by family members can recover damages for the lost life, including:
If no spouse, children, or parents are living to bring the claim, a representative of the estate may do so. In this case, any damages recovered in the suit will be disbursed by the estate to the next of kin. Damages awarded to the state are more limited, including only medical and funeral expenses as well as the pain and suffering the deceased experienced prior to death.
Can Both Suits be Filed?
Sometimes, a victim may live with his or her injuries for some time after an accident, giving him or her time to file a personal injury suit. Death caused by the same accident which occurs after the personal injury suit can leave survivors with expenses to pay. Whether or not you will be able to bring a wrongful death suit after the deceased has previously won a personal injury case depends on a few factors. First, if the deceased settled with the insurance company or individual, he or she may have signed an agreement to seek no further damages. If such an agreement exists, be certain to have a lawyer check to see if the agreement will still allow for a wrongful death suit.
Personal injury and wrongful death claims cover much of the same compensation, such as medical bills and lost wages. Georgia law does not allow for these damages to be recovered twice, so the only compensation available to you in a wrongful death claim after a successful personal injury claim is the difference between damages now and damages at the time of the personal injury claim. Typically, these would include funeral costs, pain and suffering, lost companionship, and any additional medical bills not covered in the original personal injury suit.
Contact an Attorney
If someone you love has died as a result of an accident or other wrongful death cause, do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Jonathan R. Brockman, A Personal Injury Law Firm, will assist you in recovering damages available to you.