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When a person dies due to someone else’s wrongful actions, he or she deserves justice. Georgia law allows family members to pursue wrongful death lawsuits against the person or entity responsible for their loved one’s passing.
If you are seeking to file a wrongful death claim, the attorneys at Dan Chapman & Associates can help. Our Conyers wrongful death lawyers will work aggressively to achieve the settlement that you deserve and hold the at-fault party accountable.
Why You Need Dan Chapman & Associates, LLC as Your Conyers Wrongful Death Attorneys
- Our Conyers personal injury attorneys have over 20 years of legal experience. We have the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to fight for your family’s right to justice.
- Our wrongful death lawyers are dedicated to helping victims of negligent parties. We will advocate for your family’s best interests and guide you through each stage of litigation.
- We do not charge any fees unless we win your case. Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis to limit your out-of-pocket costs and make it more accessible to pursue litigation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
In Georgia, a wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to a crime, defectively manufactured property, or from negligence. If you lost a loved one and believe that he or she could have pursued a civil lawsuit over the same incident, your family likely qualifies for a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death lawsuits can involve any of the following types of incidents.
- Medical malpractice
- Defective and dangerous products
- Intentional acts, such as assault
- Negligence-based incidents, like car accidents
If you are unsure whether you are eligible for a wrongful death claim, speak to an attorney at Dan Chapman & Associates. Our lawyers will carefully evaluate your case and identify your family’s optimal path to recovery.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims We Handle
At Dan Chapman & Associates, our firm handles a wide range of wrongful death claims. Many of our cases involve the following:
- Car accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Motorcycle injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Truck accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Dangerous drugs
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Conyers?
Georgia law has strict rules regarding who can and cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit. Because the deceased is no longer able to pursue a claim himself or herself, certain family members must initiate the process on his or her behalf.
The following parties may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia.
- The deceased’s surviving spouse is the first person who can file a claim.
- If no spouse is available to file, then the deceased’s surviving child or children may pursue a claim.
- If no spouse or children are present, the deceased’s parents can file the lawsuit.
- If the deceased does not have a surviving spouse, child, or parent, the executor or personal representative of his or her estate may file the claim.
Unlike other states, Georgia does not allow surviving siblings or grandparents to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If none of these parties are available, the court may appoint a personal representative on the deceased’s behalf.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Claims
While no amount of money could ever make up for your loved one’s death, wrongful death lawsuits provide a pathway to justice. The purpose of these claims is to provide the deceased’s family and estate with financial compensation to make up for lost income, services, and other losses related to your loved one’s passing.
Below are a few examples of damages available in Conyers’ wrongful death lawsuits.
- Lost wages, benefits, and services
- Lost care, companionship, advice, and counsel
- Medical expenses for the deceased person’s last illness or injury
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Other expenses that result from the deceased person’s wrongful death
Difference Between Economic and Non-Economic Damages in Georgia
Generally, there are two categories of compensation in civil lawsuits: economic and non-economic. Economic damages involve the financial, tangible losses that the victim or his or her family have experienced, while non-economic damages refer to intangible pain and suffering.
In Georgia wrongful death lawsuits, damages fall into one of two categories. The first is damages paid to the deceased’s loved ones for the full life of the decedent and may include both economic and non-economic losses, such as lost wages and lost companionship. The second category is intended to compensate the estate for the economic losses related to the death, such as funeral expenses.
Your attorney from Dan Chapman & Associates can carefully evaluate your loved one’s case and identify all possible avenues to compensation. Our firm will work tirelessly to maximize the settlement that you and your family receive.
Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case
To secure compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to establish the at-fault party’s negligence. There are four elements that you will need to prove: duty of care; breach of duty; causation; and damages.
- Duty: The at-fault party owed the deceased person a duty of care at the time of the incident.
- Breach of Duty: The at-fault party breached his or her duty of care through a negligent act or failure to act.
- Causation: The at-fault party’s breach of duty caused the wrongful death.
- Damages: The wrongful death resulted in damages that you and your family can claim in the lawsuit.
For example, say that you lost a loved one due to a drunk driver. Georgia drivers have a duty to follow the law, which includes rules against drinking and driving. The at-fault driver breached this duty by getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, which caused the wrongful death and the resulting damages.
Factors That Affect a Wrongful Settlement Value
When considering a wrongful death claim, one of your first questions may be, “How much compensation can my family expect to receive?” In pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, you and your family can recover financial compensation to pay for the expenses associated with your loved one’s passing, such as medical costs and funeral expenses. In addition, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide additional compensation for the loss of your loved one’s life.
It is important to remember that wrongful death settlement are based on the losses of the victim who died, and his or her estate, even though the money that is recovered is paid to the surviving family. Your family is not guaranteed a minimum settlement. However, a number of factors often determine the value of the wrongful death settlement.
#1: The Availability and Amount of Insurance Coverage
In most wrongful death cases, the amount of the available insurance, and the amount of the at-fault person’s assets, determine the value of a wrongful death claim. Most people and businesses, and even the government, have insurance coverage that can pay for the wrongful death settlement. However, these policies have set limits on the maximum amount of money that they will pay, and in the cases of businesses, and people with money, most have additional layers of insurance coverage that an experienced wrongful death attorney can find and go after.
If your family’s wrongful death damages exceed these insurance policy limits, you will need to identify if there are other assets to go after in addition to the insurance coverage. This means we will take your case to court in order to get a judgment and then to go after their assets for additional compensation. Your experienced wrongful death attorney at Dan Chapman & Associates can help you identify your family’s optimal path to recover maximum compensation.
#2: The Number of the Deceased’s Person’s Family Members Entitled To A Recovery
Wrongful death claims recover compensation for the deceased person’s surviving family members, but Georgia law determines who has a right to compensation and how much a person can recover. For example, in a wrongful death case where the person who died was married but had no children, the surviving spouse will normally recover all of the money. If there is no spouse but there are surviving children, then the children will recover equal amounts of money. However, there are many factors to be considered that can change the amounts recovered by the family members. Was there a will? Has a child died? Was a child legitimated? These factors, and many more, require that the attorney have a full understanding of the wrongful death law and the ways to maximize the recovery for those who are entitled to it.
#3: The Defendant’s Wrongful Actions
In addition to economic and non-economic damages, you may be able to recover a third category of compensation known as punitive damages in a wrongful death case. When the at-fault person’s actions or conduct shows willful misconduct, fraud, oppression, wantonness, malice, or conscious indifference to consequences, we can often recover additional damages in a wrongful death case. These are to punish the person who caused the death because of bad conduct, such as driving while drunk. Punitive damages can bring unwanted tax consequences so having an experienced wrongful death lawyer on your side can save you money in avoiding unnecessary taxes.
#4: The Judge or Jury Assigned to Your Case
When you take a wrongful death lawsuit to court, the jury will normally be responsible for determining whether your case is eligible for wrongful death recovery. Additionally, the judge can have the final say regarding the value of the wrongful death settlement.
The judge will also be responsible for deciding which evidence will be allowed into court and which evidence will be excluded from the trial. A jury in some counties may also be more conservative in awarding compensation than in other counties, so having an experienced attorney filing suit in the best available county is crucial.
#5: The Skill and Tenacity of Your Wrongful Death Attorney
When you pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, you want a lawyer on your side who can advocate aggressively for your family’s right to financial compensation. You also want to hire an attorney who has a strong track record of success with settlements and jury verdicts. By enlisting the help of a skilled and experienced attorney, your family has a stronger chance of obtaining a maximum settlement.
Wrongful Death Versus Survival Action
Wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia are very similar to survival claims. Both types of claims involve a deceased person and the damages that he or she suffered as a result of someone else’s negligent actions. Aside from this fact, these two types of lawsuits are quite different.
In simple terms, a wrongful death lawsuit is initiated after a person’s death and is intended to reimburse his or her estate and dependents for certain losses. On the other hand, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate files a survival action to continue an existing personal injury claim.
A Survival Action Is a Continuation of a Personal Injury Claim
A survival action is a personal injury claim that survives the plaintiff. The victim files a lawsuit in civil court but dies before the claim reaches a settlement. The deceased’s personal representative can continue the claim by filing a survival action. The death could happen as a result of the defendant’s negligence, but it could also be unrelated to the event altogether.
Damages in a Survival Action Differ from a Personal Injury Lawsuit
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the settlement is intended to compensate the dependents and the estate for any losses related to the deceased’s passing. However, a survival action provides compensation for the damages that the deceased could have claimed had he or she lived.
These damages may include:
- Past and future medical expenses related to the accident
- Lost wages and loss of future earnings that the deceased would have earned
- Pain and suffering that the deceased experienced between the time of the accident and the time of his or her death
- Funeral and burial expenses, if the defendant’s actions are responsible for the deceased person’s passing
At the conclusion of a successful survival action, the estate will collect the settlement and pay for any final debts, such as medical expenses. The remaining amount will be distributed to the beneficiaries named in the deceased’s will. If the deceased did not leave a will behind, the court will name a personal representative on his or her behalf and distribute the settlement according to Georgia’s probate laws.
Statute of Limitations in a Conyers Wrongful Death Claim
Georgia imposes a deadline known as the statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits. If you do not file this type of claim within two years from the date of your loved one’s death, the court will likely dismiss your case. Your attorney from Dan Chapman & Associates can help identify your appropriate filing deadline and protect your right to compensation.
Contact a Conyers Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s actions, you deserve justice. In these situations, trust the Conyers wrongful death lawyers at Dan Chapman & Associates. We can guide your family through each stage of the litigation and help you hold the at-fault party accountable.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with a Conyers wrongful death attorney.