According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, unintentional injuries are a leading cause of death for Georgians aged between 1 and 44 years old, with other leading causes being heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19. In 2020, roughly 5,500 Georgians died of unintentional injuries, the top of the list being car accidents. Also, vehicle accidents are a leading cause of wrongful death in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 100 car accident deaths happening in Fulton County every year.
If you are seeking justice and compensation for the untimely loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, the legal team at Hoffspiegel Law is here for you. In times of profound grief and despair, our experienced Atlanta wrongful death lawyers can provide compassionate support and legal guidance. Call us at (404) 760-8600 to get in touch with one of our experts and schedule a free consultation.
Our dedicated attorneys understand the emotional and financial toll the death of a loved one can take on a family. With our deep knowledge of Georgia’s wrongful death laws and a relentless commitment to advocating for justice, we strive to help you navigate the complex legal process. We are here to fight for your rights, hold any responsible parties accountable, and secure the compensation you deserve during this difficult time.
How Can Our Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers Help You
At Hoffspiegel Law, our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys have extensive experience in handling cases involving personal injury and wrongful death. We are aware of the emotional burden and the challenges you are facing after the death of a loved one.
Here are some ways in which an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer at Hoffspiegel Law can help you:
- Providing legal support and counsel. Each case has its own specifics, involving a multitude of legal aspects. Our experts are here to guide you through the entire legal process. We’ll explain your rights, options, the applicable Georgia laws, and ultimately, our wrongful death attorneys will help you understand whether or not you have a valid wrongful death claim.
- Gathering, compiling, and processing evidence. To build a strong case, relevant evidence is crucial. Our team is prepared to assemble medical records, accident reports, photographs or recorded videos of the scene of the accident, statements, expert opinions, and the whole nine yards.
- Identifying liable parties. Establishing liability in a wrongful death case is not always easy. It requires a thorough analysis of the circumstances of the incident. All the potentially liable parties require scrutiny in order to determine who was at fault, or which parties share fault. Moreso, blame-shifting tactics are pretty common, so the help of an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer can help prevent such practices.
- Handling communications and negotiations. The legal process of a wrongful death lawsuit requires negotiations with insurance companies, opposing attorneys, and other parties involved. An Atlanta wrongful death attorney can take all this burden off your shoulders while also keeping you informed about the progression of your case.
- Assessing the opposition’s case. In order to secure a settlement as close as possible to the maximum limit, you’ll have to be a step ahead of the opposition. Needless to say, having a skilled Atlanta wrongful death lawyer in your corner is of the essence in regard to that.
- Pursuing compensation. Medical expenses, lost income, funeral costs, companionship loss, and more, are on the list of damages you can seek compensation for in a wrongful death claim.
- Fighting for you at a trial, if necessary. Last but not least, our team will build your case as if it were to go to trial. Our wrongful death attorneys are fully equipped and prepared to protect your interests inside and outside of court.
We are here to simplify the legal process of a wrongful death claim for you. When you choose our law firm to represent you, you can rest assured that we’ll collaborate closely with you and develop a consistent legal approach tailored to your case.
What Defines a Wrongful Death in Atlanta, Georgia
When you’ve lost a loved one through someone else’s carelessness, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. The Georgia Wrongful Death statute creates a cause of action when death is caused by:
…a crime, from criminal or other negligence, or from property which has been defectively manufactured, whether or not as the result of negligence.
The broad wording of the statute means that a wrongful death claim may arise under a wide range of circumstances, from an automobile accident to murder.
To put it in simpler terms, wrongful death represents the loss of life due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or criminal intent. According to Georgia law, you can bring a claim against the negligent, reckless, or criminal party that has led to the death of someone close to you. Georgia laws are there to support the family of a wrongful death victim and help them pursue compensation for a variety of damages.
There is a variety of circumstances that create grounds for wrongful death lawsuits. The list includes:
- Vehicle (cars, trucks, motorcycles) collisions
- Unsafe working conditions
- Contaminated or expired food
- Unsafe construction premises
- Engineering malpractice
- Medical malpractice
- Faulty medical instruments
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Unsafe prescription drugs
- Dangerous or defective products
- Criminal acts
The list can go on, but we’ll leave it at that for now. As a general idea, if you lost a family member in circumstances similar to the ones listed above, you should call an Atlanta wrongful death attorney. They can investigate your case, help you navigate the whole legal process of a wrongful death lawsuit, and secure the rightful compensation for your losses.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims
To begin with, in a wrongful death case, the statute of limitations is the law that specifies the deadline to file a suit. As opposed to personal injury cases, in wrongful death cases, the limitation starts after the death of the decedent. To give an example here, if your loved one was seriously injured in a car accident, but died due to the injuries caused by the accident a year later, the countdown to file a wrongful death lawsuit starts on the day of their death, not on the day of the accident.
Standard wrongful death statute of limitation. The statute of limitations that applies for most wrongful deaths in the state of Georgia is two years from the death of the decedent, while for loss of consortium, the limitation is four years. If a suit isn’t filed within this two-year or four-year timespan, the right to do this is almost always lost.
Depending on various circumstances, the countdown to file a wrongful death suit in Georgia can be tolled, in other words, temporarily stopped. The following two scenarios are the most common:
Limitation if the death was the result of a crime. If it is established that the death was caused by a criminal act, the statute of limitation for filing a civil suit is suspended for up to six years or until the criminal case is concluded, whichever period is shorter. Once the criminal case ends, the two-year standard limitation commences.
Limitation if the decedent’s estate was not probated. In this case, the two-year clock for filing a suit can be tolled for up to five years. Once the state of the deceased person is probated, the standard two-year time span can commence.
Here are several other fairly important factors to consider when it comes to wrongful death claims in Georgia.
Life insurance contracts. Filing a suit on insurance policies typically comes with a limitation of six years. However, many policies have specific clauses that reduce the time for filing a suit to as low as one year.
Truck accident cases. According to Federal law, interstate motor carriers must retain their operational records for a time period of six months. The thing is, once this time limit expires, many trucking companies purge their records. If a loved one was killed in a truck accident, vital evidence to the case may be lost this way. Thus, even though this doesn’t have anything to do with the standard 2-year limitation, the 6-month period should definitely be taken into account. In this case, it is best to hire a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible, before 6 months pass after the accident so that they can secure all the necessary evidence for your case.
Claims against government agencies. Claims against the government almost always come with special requirements. According to Georgia State Tort Claims Act, if you have a claim against a state agency, you must first present a pre-suit notice of claim (in writing) to the agency involved and to the Risk Management Division of Administrative Services. The deadline to submit this pre-suit notice of claim is 12 months. The suit can be filed within the corresponding limitation, only 90 days after the pre-suit notice.
Now, even though the statute of limitations that applies to your case is probably the standard two-year one, it’s still important to call a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. They have knowledge of any specific circumstances that may apply to your case and can make sure you won’t miss any deadlines.
Who Can File a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim?
Not every loved one or family member has standing to file a wrongful death suit in Georgia. The Georgia Wrongful Death statute sets forth only two parties, other than the decedent’s estate, who may file a wrongful death suit:
- A surviving spouse
- A child or children
However, another Georgia statute specifies that parents may recover for wrongful death under two circumstances:
- When the deceased child is a minor
- When the deceased child is an adult (statutorily described as “sui juris”), but leaves behind no surviving spouse or children
Two Types of Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia
A wrongful death claim in Georgia is typically filed on behalf of both one or more family members and the decedent’s estate. With regard to the family members’ claim, the goal of the wrongful death law is to compensate for the “full value of the life of the decedent.” In contrast, recovery by a personal representative of the decedent’s estate is more strictly economic and is typically limited to compensation for expenses resulting from the wrongful death.
While this separation may sound complicated, the decedent’s family and personal representative need not be concerned with the specifics of the claims. We represent both the surviving spouse and/or children and the estate, bringing all available claims in a single case.
Full Value of the Life of the Decedent
When a wrongful death claim is filed by a family member such as a surviving spouse or minor children, the damages include both the economic and non-economic value of the victim’s life. Economic damages typically center around the lost earnings of the decedent. The non-economic value may include elements such as loss of care and companionship. Some factors to be considered by the jury in determining damages include:
- Age at the time of death;
- Health and life expectancy had the incident resulting in wrongful death not occurred;
- Earning history and capacity
There is no specific list of qualifying non-economic damages, but in a wrongful death case, the calculation may include elements such as loss of love and support, the increased burden on the surviving spouse, and the loss of shared experiences such as family holidays. Every family’s losses are unique. The only way to identify and prove real damages is to take the time to fully understand the family dynamics, relationships, and unrealized plans and then showcase those losses to the jury. At Hoffspiegel Law, we make that investment in every case.
Economic Recovery by the Estate
While the family is compensated for the full value of the life of the decedent, an award to the estate will be based on liabilities incurred as a result of the action causing the death. These typically include costs such as medical expenses incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligent or intentional act and funeral expenses.
Recovery by the Estate in the Absence of a Qualified Family Member
Since Georgia law limits the family members who may sue directly for wrongful death, the personal representative in the estate may sometimes play a dual role in the prosecution of a wrongful death claim. Where there is no eligible family member, the personal representative’s claim will include costs on behalf of the estate and the full value of the decedent’s life on behalf of any heirs.
Retaining the Right Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer
While many personal injury lawyers file wrongful death claims, the representation you receive is not always the same. While some law firms seem to specialize in wrapping up wrongful death cases with a quick settlement and moving on to the next, Lloyd and Alex Hoffspiegel prepare every case as if it is going to trial. Only after a thorough investigation, assessment of the evidence, and consideration of any offers received will determine whether to recommend accepting a settlement or proceeding to trial.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act, our Atlanta wrongful death lawyers will aggressively represent your interests, protect your rights, and recover compensation for your losses. Also, we work on a contingency fee basis. In other words, you don’t have to pay us a thing until we win.
Contact our law firm today at (404) 760-8600, or click the Contact Us button to get started. You may be surprised by the peace of mind that comes with having a dedicated, knowledgeable advocate on your side.