When you unexpectedly lose a loved one through someone else’s negligence, the pain can be unbearable, and you need time to process what has happened to you. The devastation of the sudden loss, however, is often compounded by the financial strain of losing a household income, while facing the added costs of funeral expenses and medical bills associated with the fatal injuries.
When a death is caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another person or party, this is legally considered a wrongful death, and in these cases, the deceased’s family members are entitled to claim compensation for losses and expenses.
Our highly skilled Alpharetta wrongful death attorneys at Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. can take the burden of pursuing a complex wrongful death claim off your shoulders so that you can focus on your family and healing. We have successfully secured maximum compensation for numerous families facing a wrongful death case, whether it was caused by a car accident, a defective product, medical malpractice, or a work accident.
If you have lost a loved one due to the legal fault of someone else, consider giving us a call at (770) 205-8827 to set up a free consultation. Our compassionate legal team will speak with you about your legal options and how we may be able to help you recover damages for the loss you have suffered. Learn more about how we might be able to help you and the steps you can take in Alpharetta, GA.
Reasons to Consult a Wrongful Death Attorney
When you suffer the loss of a loved one, you should not have to worry about the legal intricacies of filing a wrongful death claim. Instead, consider consulting with a wrongful death attorney who will spearhead your claim and handle the details of your case. If you decide to move forward after the consultation, your lawyer will take over the following:
- Investigation: Once you retain our services, we’ll immediately launch an investigation into the case, enlisting the help of accident reconstruction experts, medical experts, and financial experts, as needed, to develop an airtight case for fault and compensation.
- Compiling evidence: We’ll use our legal resources to secure crucial evidence for your case, including medical records, corporate records, security camera footage, police reports, witness statements, photos of the scene of the accident, and more.
- Filing the claim: In Georgia, there is a 2-year statute of limitations for wrongful death. That two-year timeframe starts from the day that your loved one died, not the accident that was responsible for the death. Your attorney will take over filing everything for you to ensure that everything is filed on time before the statute of limitations expires.
- Communication with insurance: Negotiating with insurance companies is a challenge to do at any time, but especially when the circumstances involve the death of your loved one. Insurance companies’ first priority will always be their bottom line, and they will do all they can minimize your claim or deny it altogether. Your lawyer will take over all of the communication for you, including negotiating settlements or going back and forth with every involved insurance company, if there is a third party involved in the death.
- Filing a lawsuit: If we’re unable to secure the compensation you’re owed from the at-fault party’s insurance company, we’ll take your case to court to fight for the financial reward you need and deserve.
How to Prove Negligence in Georgia
In Georgia, and any other state, there are four elements of negligence that the plaintiff has to prove in order to be able to seek damages. Those elements include:
- Duty: The defendant owed your loved one some standard of care. For example, if they were operating a motor vehicle on the road, they owed them a duty to do so correctly.
- Breach of duty: The defendant failed to uphold their duty in some way. They may have crashed into your car, causing a death, or they may have been neglectful in updating their property.
- Causation: You need to show that their breach of duty directly caused the accident to happen.
- Damages: Your loved one died as a result and incurred damages from the incident.
States across the country operate under different types of negligence laws, but in Georgia, we follow the modified comparative approach. You must demonstrate that your loved one’s death was caused through no fault of their own, and if they did have any fault, then the total award you receive may be reduced by the amount of fault they had for the incident. If the courts were to award you $1,000,000 but stated your loved one was 10 percent to blame, the total award would then be $900,000.
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
To be able to file a claim of wrongful death, you need to fall into a certain category. People who are eligible to file include:
- Immediate family: This includes spouses, children, adopted children, and parents of unmarried children.
- Spouses, partners, or financial dependents: You can file for wrongful death if you were a spouse, partner, or financial dependent of the deceased person.
- Distant family members: Brothers, sisters, grandparents, and other distant family members may be able to file a claim if certain circumstances apply.
- Anyone who suffered financially: If someone suffers financially from the wrongful death, then they may be able to file for lost support, even without a blood relation or marriage to the deceased.
- Parents to a deceased fetus: In Georgia, the fetus must have reached the point of “quickening,” or being able to move around in the womb for a wrongful death claim to be viable. If you have questions about this law, call our Alpharetta law firm to find out more about this.
Types of Damages You May Be Able to Recover
In a wrongful death claim, there are various types of damages that you may be able to recover from the liable party, which could include:
- Medical bills: This could include surgeries, hospital stays, and any other medical costs incurred while medical professionals were working to keep your loved one alive.
- Funeral costs: A funeral, burial, tombstone, and other costs can add up – and in the case of this wrongful death, those are not things you should have to handle on your own.
- Loss of future earnings: If your loved one was earning a salary at the time of their death, then you could be entitled to compensation for the loss of their potential future earnings.
- Loss of benefits: This could include medical insurance, pension, and any other benefits that were provided to your loved one.
- Mental anguish: There is no way to put a monetary value on your loved one’s death, but you can claim mental anguish damages as a way to help offset the trauma you are going through.
- Loss of companionship and care: You can also claim a loss of companionship or loss of care.
In addition to the economic and non-economic compensation above, you may be entitled to recover punitive damages in a lawsuit, if the at-fault party acted in a particularly egregious manner. Instead of compensating you for loss, punitive damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and deter others from acting in a similar manner.
Your Alpharetta wrongful death lawyer will be there every step of the way to help you decide what types of compensation you may be entitled to in your claim. Remember, your lawyer wants the best possible outcome for you and will work to get you and your family the fair and full compensation you need.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Claims
In Georgia, wrongful death claims are taken very seriously, and the laws surrounding it can be complex. Our lawyers often get asked certain questions about wrongful death. We’ve provided answers to some of these questions below, and we can provide you with detailed answers in your consultation with our attorneys.
Will it be worth it for me to hire an attorney?
We have to leave that final call up to you, but it will only help your case to have an experienced wrongful death attorney on your side, as they will have an understanding of the full compensation you’re owed, how to develop a case for the compensation, and how to negotiate assertively with insurance companies in order to secure that compensation.
What is the apportionment rule?
This rule was established by Georgia courts, and basically, it helps determine who pays what in a claim. If there is a third party involved, then they would potentially be assigned part of the blame for the incident. If one entity is assigned 52 percent of the blame, and the third party then has 48 percent of the blame, then they would each payout that percentage in damages according to the apportionment rule.
My relative did not have a will. Am I still able to file a claim?
Yes, you can file a wrongful death claim without a will. Georgia law outlines who is eligible to file wrongful death, and that is not affected by a will. Your lawyer can help determine your eligibility for you.
Did You Lose a Loved One Due to the Negligence of Someone Else? Contact Us Today
At Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C., we handle wrongful death cases in Alpharetta, GA, and nearby areas. If you lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, our knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys may be able to assist you. Contact us today at (770) 205-8827 for a free initial consultation so we can go over the details of your case and determine your legal options. We are here for you and your family.