Marietta Wrongful Death Attorney
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Nothing can fully compensate a grieving family. But holding responsible parties accountable can make a difference. If you lost someone due to another’s negligence, speak with our Marietta wrongful death attorneys. The Champion Firm answers questions by phone, text, or chat. No fees unless we win.
Why Speak to a Marietta Wrongful Death Lawyer?
We provide responsive and compassionate legal care.
When a loved one dies suddenly because of negligence or a wrongful act, you can pursue legal action under certain circumstances. A wrongful death claim may allow for some much-needed compensation or a sense of justice for your loss.
We understand you may be apprehensive about speaking to a lawyer about your loss. You and your family are going through a lot. But Georgia law provides you and your family the ability to seek a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, so your best option is to speak with a wrongful death lawyer. An attorney can explain if GA wrongful death law applies and guide your next steps.
WATCH: Is There a Statute of Limitations on Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
The Champion Firm Difference in Marietta Wrongful Death Cases:
Let our Marietta wrongful death attorneys assert your rights and pursue a strategy on your behalf.
Protect Your Ability to File a Wrongful Death Claim . There are strict time limits to file a Georgia wrongful death action. We’ll assess the situation fast and determine your eligibility.
Prove Fault After a Fatal Accident. WIt takes evidence to show that someone caused a wrongful death. We’ll investigate and establish what happened.
Secure Wrongful Death Damages. Once we identify the liable parties, our lawyers will seek max compensation for the financial hardship on your family.
Ensure the Best Possible Settlement. Insurers may try to deny or limit how much they owe. We’ll leverage every resource and go after everything you deserve for a lost life.
What is a “Wrongful Death” in Marietta, Georgia?
According to Ga. Code § 51-4-1, a “Wrongful Death” occurs when a person dies because of the legal fault of another person or entity. This includes:
- Negligence – This could be the reckless driver who caused your loved one’s fatal car accident.
- Medical Malpractice – Fatal surgical mistakes, medication errors, and misdiagnosis are some common examples.
- Product Defects – This would include deaths from dangerous products that never should have been sold.
- Intentional Acts or Crimes – Assault and drunk driving are just two illegal acts that may turn deadly.
Understanding Georgia’s Wrongful Death Law
In any of the examples listed and countless other scenarios, you and your attorney would typically file a civil legal action or “wrongful death lawsuit” to hold the liable party accountable for damages (financial compensation) for the harm caused. The financially responsible party in a wrongful death case will vary. The individuals or entities involved typically carry insurance policies to cover a fatal incident, and a civil claim is a mechanism to secure it.
Unlike other civil actions, the survivors, family members, or an estate recoups losses on behalf of the deceased.
Who’s Responsible for a Wrongful Death in Marietta?
Sometimes, the liable party is the person or business directly responsible. In other cases, it may be a business the at-fault individual represents, such as a truck driver in a fatal truck crash. You may file against the driver and their employer based on the facts.
Wrongful Death Actions & Criminal Charges
A civil wrongful death claim is independent of any criminal charges that may apply or come from your loved one’s death. Even if the person responsible for your loved one’s death was charged and convicted of DUI, you could still file in civil court. Likewise, you can still pursue damages if criminal charges don’t happen.
Criminal fault for losing life has a high standard of culpability and the burden of proof is higher – “beyond a reasonable doubt.” A civil action for wrongful death typically does not require the same high level of culpability in a criminal case and the burden of proof is “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that you must show that it’s more likely than not that the party in question is legally liable.
What to Do After a Wrongful Death in Marietta
A wrongful death attorney with The Champion Firm will guide you through the insurance and legal process to ensure compensation is recovered. Here are some things to consider:
Keep information regarding your loved one's death.
Our advice is to keep everything related to your loved one's passing, including correspondence from the insurance company, hospital bills, and any photographic or documentary evidence. You can turn this over to your attorney, who can decide what could be used to support your claim.
Allow an autopsy if asked.
An autopsy answers essential questions about the decedent's cause of death, time of death, and other information. We respect that some religious beliefs prohibit autopsies, but they are part of the investigative process. You deserve justice for your loved one's death.
Take time to grieve.
It is never easy to say goodbye to a loved one. It is even more heartbreaking when their death is the result of negligence or wrongdoing. A wrongful death lawyer takes care of protecting the interests of you and your loved ones so that you don’t have to.
Call an attorney for a free consult.
The sooner you call, the sooner we can begin. It takes time to build a wrongful death case. An attorney can meet with you at our office, home, or phone or video call.
How Do You Determine the Value of a Wrongful Death Case”
Damages in a Marietta Wrongful Death Claim
When measuring wrongful death damages, Georgia’s wrongful death statute considers the “full value of life” of the decedent (person who has passed away). These damages account for what the decedent lost from their point of view, not what the surviving relatives lost. This includes compensation for economic damages, such as the decedent’s expected work-life earnings. It also includes compensation for non-economic damages for the intangible value of the decedent’s life.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer can gather and evaluate all the evidence of the value of your loved one’s life.
Wrongful Death Damages & Losses
The damages available in a wrongful death claim are measured from the decedent’s viewpoint. Every case is unique and requires a different strategy. We pursue the maximum compensation possible for you and your loved one’s estate.
- The medical expenses related to your loved one’s passing
- Lost income and benefits (potential earnings and overall economic value)
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The decedent’s pre-death pain & suffering
Punitive Damages in Marietta Wrongful Death Cases
Punitive damages are a type of damages that are available when a defendant’s conduct rises to a certain level of culpability. While other damages are designed as compensation, punitive damages are supposed to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.
Punitive damages are also known as “vindictive damages” or “exemplary damages.” Georgia wrongful death law does not permit punitive damages as part of the wrongful death claim. However, when someone dies, these damages are available as part of the estate claim.
Punitive Damages: Standard of Proof
Punitive wrongful death damages have certain limitations and a high standard of proof. They are recoverable only when a plaintiff shows “by clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant’s conduct constituted “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.”
In cases involving product liability claims, there is no limitation on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded; however, only one award of punitive damages can be recovered in Georgia from a defendant for the same act or omission. In product liability cases, 75% of the punitive damages award, less a proportionate share of attorney’s fees and expenses, gets paid to the State of Georgia.
In non-product liability cases—such as those involving car and trucking accidents, premises liability claims, and medical malpractice—punitive damages are generally capped at $250,000. But there are exceptions. There is no cap if the defendant acted with a specific intent to cause harm. There is also no cap if the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The challenging part of seeking punitive damages usually involves proving that the defendant’s conduct meets the standard of culpability and that the “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard is met. Common cases that involve punitive damages involve intoxicated drivers who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
Judgment Caps in Marietta Wrongful Death Cases
Georgia does not impose any caps on wrongful death damages. Georgia Code § 51-13-1 limits noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, but this statute was declared unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court.
While the law does not impose any caps on wrongful death damages, your particular case may involve practical considerations that limit the recoverability of damages. Most individuals do not have the money and resources to pay the full damages associated with a death. As a result, an individual’s insurance policy is frequently the only source of recovery for wrongful death damages. Likewise, most businesses—other than large companies—may have limited resources to pay the full wrongful death damages, so the company’s insurance policy may be the only source of recovery.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Marietta, GA?
To be eligible to file a wrongful death claim on the decedent’s behalf in Georgia, you must be the decedent’s:
- The administrator of the deceased’s estate
Georgia law provides that if the decedent was married, the spouse has the right to bring the claim. If the decedent was not married but has children, the children can bring the claim. If there is no spouse and no children, the parents have the claim. Last, if there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, then the deceased’s estate has the right to bring the claim.
Georgia law prohibits other family members (siblings or grandparents) from filing a wrongful death claim.
Watch: Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Georgia Survival Actions
A survival action is a legal claim that a deceased’s estate has after someone dies for all of the pre-death damages, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering. Survival actions are also called estate claims because the estate has the claim.
When somebody is negligently killed, any medical expenses and pain and suffering they experienced before their death would be damages for the estate to pursue. Even when the death was not due to negligence, a survival action can exist. For example, maybe after a car accident your husband had a car accident claim pending and died of unrelated causes. This represents a survival action because the claim “survives” the person’s death and can be brought by the estate.
Funeral and burial expenses are also available as damages when the person’s death was due to the negligent conduct at issue in the claim.
Wrongful Death Claims in Marietta, GA
A sudden loss can happen for any number of reasons. And while fault can sometimes be difficult to establish, some common examples of accidental deaths caused by negligence include:
Fatal Car Accidents
There were 1,615 traffic fatalities in Georgia in 2020, the highest number in more than a decade. Most accidents are preventable, with drunk drivers, distracted drivers, and reckless drivers as the cause of many wrongful deaths.
According to the U.S Department of Transportation, 4,119 people died in large truck crashes in 2019, representing a 31% increase since 2009.
According to a study by Johns Hopkins, medical errors are the third leading cause of death for Americans after cancer and heart disease. These include incorrect diagnosis, surgical errors, birth injuries, and failure to treat.
Manufacturers must make sure their products are safe before being sold or used. Still, faulty products, ranging from medication to tires, are common in wrongful deaths.
How To File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Marietta, Georgia
Suppose you’re an authorized person to file a wrongful death lawsuit and fall within the Georgia statute of limitations. In that case, the next step is to file an official complaint. This document will identify the alleged parties at fault, notify them of the claimed negligence or wrongdoing, and provide legal grounds for your claims.
Once the wrongful death lawsuit is filed, the parties in question will have a chance to respond before entering the discovery phase, where evidence and documents are shared and depositions are taken. Subsequently, the case will enter pre-trial negotiations, which may include mediation or arbitration.
If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to a jury trial. Typically, a jury decides the issues of liability and damages in a wrongful death case. Once attorneys present the arguments and evidence from both sides, the jury will make a final ruling and issue a verdict.
Proving Fault for a Wrongful Death
To hold another party or entity liable in a wrongful death case, you and your wrongful death lawyer must prove the elements of the claim. In negligence cases, this requires showing that the defendant owed a duty of care, that the duty was breached, that the breach of the duty proximately caused the decedent’s death, and the amount of damages that were caused.
In product liability cases, you may have a strict liability claim based on the design or manufacture of the product. A strict liability claim for a defective product does not require showing that the defendant was negligent, but it does require showing that the product had a defect in its design, manufacture, or its warnings.
While it can be hard to focus on a legal case after experiencing the trauma of losing a loved one, it is important to involve a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible so that all available evidence can be preserved and analyzed. If evidence is lost or destroyed, it can make it more difficult to prove fault later down the road.
In car and trucking accidents, all available evidence related to the vehicles should be preserved, the vehicles should be inspected, and accident reconstructionists should visit the scene and gather evidence. In product liability cases, the product involved should be preserved.
Proving fault requires proving causation, so an autopsy may be necessary. This is particularly true in medical malpractice cases where the lack of an autopsy can make it very difficult to prove that a medical error caused your loved one’s death.
Our Marietta Wrongful Death Attorneys Maximize Compensation
The Champion Firm will build the strongest possible strong claim using evidence, documentation, and testimony that might include:
- Criminal charges (If Applicable)
- Police reports
- Photos or videos
- Medical reports
- Physical evidence
- Eyewitness statements
Experts to Prove Fault & Life Value
In car and truck accident cases, we will utilize experienced accident reconstructionists to inspect the vehicles and download any event recorders that can provide valuable evidence about the driver’s conduct. We will also have them inspect the scene to gather important evidence, such as skid marks, vehicle debris, and traffic light sequences.
Proving fault is just one part of a wrongful death case. Maximizing the damages is another important part. We frequently call upon financial experts to calculate the economic losses. For example, it is not enough to take your loved one’s pay stubs and multiply them. Our wrongful death lawyers consider promotions, raises, and other professional advancements that your loved one could have received. Our goal is to protect you and your family members from current and future financial burdens.
We also learn as much as we can about the decedent by spending time with their family members and friends. We will use photos and videos of your family member to show their enjoyment of life and the losses they have experienced as a result of their untimely death.
Wrongful Death Settlements in Marietta, Georgia
As with most personal injury cases, most wrongful death lawsuits settle without a trial. It is important that your attorney be prepared for trial though to ensure you get the best possible offer. You should have an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can present the necessary evidence and negotiate with the at-fault party or insurance company to reach a settlement offer.
Many insurance companies will quickly offer a settlement early when it involves a wrongful death. This is a common tactic to reduce what they payout. But you could be missing out on the compensation you deserve and will need down the line.
Your wrongful death attorney should carefully examine any offer to ensure it covers the fair value for your various losses and accurately reflects the harm caused by the loss of your loved one.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial where your lawyer will present evidence of fault, causation, and damages. A jury will decide these issues and award an amount of damages if they find in your favor.
Ten Steps to a Successful Georgia Personal Injury Case
By Darl Champion Jr.Download Your Copy
Wrongful Death FAQs
If you believe your relative died because of someone else’s careless, reckless, or malicious behavior, call a wrongful death lawyer immediately. You should learn more about your legal options.
It depends on the circumstances. If the cause of your loved one’s death is clear, such as a car crash, an autopsy might not be necessary. In medical malpractice cases, an autopsy is frequently beneficial. An autopsy is also beneficial if there is any kind of delay between the injury and death. If there’s any doubt about what caused your loved one’s death, an autopsy may be important evidence in a wrongful death claim.
Georgia law determines how wrongful death damages are divided. If there is a spouse and no children, the spouse is entitled to the full damages. If there is a spouse and children, the damages are shared evenly between the spouse and surviving children, but the spouse gets no less than 1/3 of the damages. If there is no spouse and no children, the deceased’s parents have the claim and get the full amount of damages. If there are no surviving parents, the deceased’s estate typically brings the claim, and the damages would be distributed through the estate. If there is a will, the damages are distributed according to the will. Without a will, they would be distributed according to Georgia’s intestacy laws.
Possibly. It depends on a variety of factors. The survival action is for the estate. The compensation is given to the estate, not directly to surviving relatives. This compensation is then distributed along with the rest of the estate to your loved one’s beneficiaries. If there is a will, the funds would be distributed according to the will’s instructions. Georgia’s intestacy statutes will specify who gets what if there is no will.
Help Starts Here
The Champion Firm is committed to treating you like family and helping you obtain maximum compensation as you go through this trying time. We will work on your behalf while you focus on your well-being and your loved ones.
Our Marietta wrongful death lawyers take care of the details, from filing an insurance claim to filing a wrongful death lawsuit if you lost a loved one due to reckless or unlawful behavior. We do this with compassionate service and aggressive representation.
Contact us for a free consult. Pay nothing until you win. Guaranteed. .
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