Losing a loved one before their time is among the most life-altering and painful experiences any of us can undergo. When the person you love has died due to the negligent or intentional act of another party, the loss can feel even more devastating. In addition to the grief you are feeling, you may also experience a profound sense of injustice. You may also find yourself struggling with the expenses of your loved one’s death, especially if you relied on their paycheck to make ends meet.

In such unjust circumstances, knowing where to turn for help is critical. Working with an experienced Georgia wrongful death attorney is key to pursuing compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses and funeral costs, as well as the other losses you have suffered due to their passing.

The seasoned team at Bayuk Pratt has the experience, knowledge, and skills necessary to maximize your claim and demand accountability. Contact us today for a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Georgia.

How a Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You

If you are thinking about filing a wrongful death claim, you are probably going through one of the most stressful moments of your life. While seeking compensation via an insurance claim or lawsuit is challenging even at the best of times, doing so when you are still processing your grief can feel nearly impossible. Further, without a thorough knowledge of insurance company tactics and Georgia’s wrongful death laws, you’re at risk of making mistakes that could jeopardize your claim.

Enlisting the assistance of a seasoned Georgia wrongful death lawyer from Bayuk Pratt can put your claim in the hands of a skilled professional while also giving you time to focus on what’s important. Founding partners Frank Bayuk and Bradley Pratt previously worked as lead attorneys for the most elite defense firms in the world, where they became experts at helping insurance companies defend themselves against claims of liability. They use that direct insider knowledge and put it to work on behalf of accident victims and their families.

When you hire a member of your team for your wrongful death case, we will:

  • Investigate the incident that led to your loved one’s death
  • Identify all at-fault parties and work to hold them accountable
  • Calculate the total value of your claim so you do not settle for less than you deserve
  • Negotiate aggressively with the insurer to secure a fair settlement
  • File a wrongful death lawsuit if the insurer is unwilling to offer you compensation that will cover your losses

What Compensation Is Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?

In wrongful death cases, Georgia state law allows surviving family members to recover the “full value of the life of the decedent.” This includes both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages encompass the present value of the deceased person’s future earnings and services they would have provided over their expected lifetime. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, account for the intangible elements of life, such as companionship, love, and enjoyment, which cannot be easily quantified.

Additionally, if the deceased survived for some time before succumbing to their injuries, a separate “survival action” can be brought by their estate. This type of suit can recover funeral expenses and medical costs related to the fatal injury, as well as for the pain and suffering the decedent endured between the time of injury and death.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

The distribution of wrongful death settlements in Georgia is governed by the state’s wrongful death statutes. If the deceased person is survived by a spouse, the spouse is entitled to a minimum of one-third of the recovery, regardless of the number of children. The remaining portion is divided equally among the surviving children. If there is no surviving spouse, then the children of the deceased split the recovery equally.

In cases where there is no surviving spouse or children, any living parents of the decedent are entitled to wrongful death compensation. If there are no surviving parents, the settlement is paid to the deceased’s estate and distributed according to the terms of their will or, in the absence of a will, by Georgia’s intestacy laws.

It is worth noting that the person pursuing the claim may differ from the wrongful death beneficiaries in Georgia. The person bringing the claim must act in the best interests of all beneficiaries and distribute the settlement proceeds accordingly.

What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Case?

To prevail in a Georgia wrongful death case, you must demonstrate that the defendant caused the decedent’s death by behaving negligently, recklessly, or intentionally in a manner that put others at risk of harm. You must also prove that you have suffered losses as a direct result of the wrongful death.

Useful evidence in your claim might include the following:

  • Medical Records – These include hospital records, doctor’s notes, and any other medical documentation that outlines the deceased’s condition before and after the incident.
  • Autopsy Report – Provides a detailed analysis of the cause of death, which is critical in proving how the incident led to the wrongful death.
  • Eyewitness Testimony – Statements from people who saw the event can provide crucial details about what happened.
  • Expert Testimony – Experts in fields such as medicine or accident reconstruction can provide insights into how the negligence occurred and its role in the decedent’s death.
  • Police Reports – If the death resulted from a traffic accident, a crime, or another incident involving police, the reports taken by responding officers can be vital.
  • Photographs and Video Evidence – Images or video from the scene can show conditions or actions leading to the wrongful death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?

Georgia’s wrongful death statute determines the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The person entitled to bring the claim depends on the family members who survived the deceased.

If a spouse survives the deceased person, the spouse has the primary right to file the wrongful death claim. If there is no surviving spouse, the right to file passes to the deceased person’s children. In cases with no surviving spouse or children, the deceased’s parents are entitled to bring the claim.

If there are no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the administrator of the deceased person’s estate may file the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate and any other next of kin.

It is crucial to understand that while the person filing the claim has the right to make decisions regarding the lawsuit, they do so on behalf of all eligible beneficiaries. They have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of all beneficiaries and distribute any settlement or award according to Georgia’s wrongful death statutes.

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?

In general, the Georgia wrongful death statute of limitations stipulates that an eligible party must file any lawsuit within two years of the decedent’s death.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the death occurred when the at-fault party was committing a crime, the state’s criminal trial against that party will take precedence over any civil lawsuits, like wrongful death claims. The limitations period may be extended to up to six years to account for this dynamic.

If your loved one’s death occurred due to the actions of a government body or employee, the statutory deadline might be shorter. In some cases, you may have only six months to file a claim.

With so many variables affecting the legal deadline, it is essential to enlist the help of a reputable wrongful death law firm as soon as possible to protect your claim.

What Are the Common Wrongful Death Cases?

A wrongful death case can arise from a wide range of situations where someone’s actions lead to the death of another person. Some common examples include:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents – Fatal crashes involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, or pedestrians where the at-fault driver’s negligence led to the death
  • Medical Malpractice – Deaths resulting from medical errors, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or improper treatment by healthcare providers
  • Defective Products – Deaths caused by dangerous or defective products, such as faulty vehicles, malfunctioning machinery, or harmful pharmaceuticals
  • Premises Liability – Fatal accidents occurring on someone else’s property due to unsafe conditions, such as slip and falls, swimming pool accidents, or inadequate security leading to violent crime
  • Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect – Deaths of elderly or disabled individuals due to abuse, neglect, or substandard care in nursing homes or assisted living facilities
  • Criminal Acts – Deaths resulting from intentional criminal acts, such as assault, battery, or homicide