Following a death caused by another person, state law allows what is known as a wrongful death claim. These claims are a form of a civil lawsuit that lets the surviving family to seek compensation from the person responsible for their loved one’s death.
A wrongful death claim differs from a criminal investigation. Instead of jail, these claims seek monetary compensation from the at-fault party. Cases are filed by dedicated personal injury attorneys in civil court, as opposed to county prosecutors.
If you believe you are entitled to compensation due to the death of your loved one, it is vital that you seek legal representation. These cases are complex, but an Athens wrongful death lawyer might be able to simplify the legal process and help your family move forward.
Wrongful death is defined by Georgia Code Section 51-4-1 as any loss of life resulting from another person’s:
Wrongful death claims are not limited to criminal acts, and it is possible to pursue a case even if the fatal act was unintentional. An Athens attorney could advise a person’s surviving relatives if they have a viable wrongful death claim based on these factors.
Wrongful death claims are similar to other personal injury actions, and the compensation available in these cases is generally the same as other negligence lawsuits. The important difference is that the decedent is no longer alive to bring a lawsuit themselves. Instead, the surviving family pursues the claim on the decedent’s behalf.
A wrongful death in Athens can result from many different situations. Any death stemming from a criminal act qualifies, whether it was an intentional killing or a death that resulted from a crime. Other common causes include car accidents, premises liability accidents, and injuries at work.
Not every member of a decedent’s family has the right to file a wrongful death claim. Georgia law limits the right to bring a lawsuit to specific members of the decedent’s immediate family. An Athens resident could consult an attorney to determine their right to file a wrongful death claim.
The right to pursue a case initially rests with the surviving spouse of the deceased person. If the couple had minor children at the time of death, the surviving spouse must also represent the children’s interests in the claim. Surviving children may bring a claim if there is no surviving spouse.
If there are no surviving spouses or children, the right to bring a wrongful death claim shifts to the surviving parents of the decedent. Ultimately, a personal representative of the estate could bring a claim if no other qualify family members are willing or able to. Proceeds in these cases would go to the decedent’s heirs.
Dealing with the pain and grief of an unexpected death can be challenging for anyone. You deserve to focus on these issues instead of struggling with complex legal problems. By hiring an attorney to handle your claim, you can put your focus on your family and leave the litigation issues to a professional.
The first step in moving forward with your case is selecting legal counsel. To get started, call an Athens wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.