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Columbus Wrongful Death Lawyer

The loss of a loved one is never an easy time. The impact of these tragic situations will be felt for years. While many deaths are no one’s fault, in some situations, a person or company may be held legally responsible. Incidents that lead to an untimely death may be the subject of both a criminal case and a civil case.

While the District Attorney’s office has the sole discretion to bring a criminal charge, it is left to the decedent’s family to file a civil lawsuit to claim damages.

A Columbus wrongful death lawyer can represent the estates of the recently deceased in civil suits for monetary compensation. Contact a qualified personal injury attorney that can fight for justice for you and your loved one.

Laws Governing Wrongful Death in Georgia

Whenever someone dies under circumstances that are not a natural death, the State of Georgia may investigate. This can involve charging the defendant with a crime. Even if the State declines to do so, the decedent’s family always has the right to start a civil law suit.

Any civil lawsuit in Georgia must be centered around a cause of action. These are prescribed legal theories with specific requirements that a plaintiff must prove in order to win their case.

Oddly, Georgia law has no cause of action titled wrongful death. Instead, plaintiffs must allege that the actions of the defendant fit into a cause of action that resulted in a death. Examples of these causes of action include:

  • Negligence
  • Product liability
  • Assault
  • False imprisonment

For example, if a car accident happens because a defendant ran a red light, the plaintiff will argue that the defendant was negligent. In the damages portion of the complaint, the plaintiff will state that the negligence caused a death.

One interesting portion of a wrongful death suit is identifying the plaintiff. Normally in civil cases, the plaintiff is the person who was actually injured. This creates a clear problem since the injured person is deceased.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Georgia’s legislature has passed a statute stating who may file a claim for a wrongful death of a family member. Universally, a surviving spouse may be a plaintiff under GA Code 51-4-2. If no spouse is available, adult children may pursue the claim.

In cases where the only surviving family are minor children, the executor of the decedent’s estate must file the claim on their behalf. In instances where there is no estate named, the court may appoint an administrator to serve as plaintiff.

Wrongful Death Claim Process

One other nuance in Georgia wrongful death cases is how damages must be claimed. There are two separate lawsuits which must be filed in order for the estate to collect full compensation. The first is defined in GA Code 51-4-2(a) as being for the full value of the life of the decedent.

This can be hard to place an exact figure on as it must make a determination of not only a person’s present value to the family but also their future earnings potential. Often Columbus wrongful death lawyers call in economic experts as witnesses in these cases.

The second lawsuit aims to provide compensation for direct costs to the family due to the death. Items such as medical bills, medications, and funeral expenses are considered in this suit. It is also in this suit that the decedent’s pain and suffering prior to death are calculated. In other words, these are damages that were actually felt by the decedent prior to death.

Assistance from a Lawyer

Losing a loved one is enough to throw a family into emotional and financial turmoil. While the family is consumed with grief and making arrangements for a funeral, the economic and emotional pain of the future looms on the horizon.

In situations where the loss of a loved one is the result of another person’s or company’s negligence or criminal act, the decedent’s family has the right to pursue monetary damages in a civil claim. Columbus wrongful death lawyers work to pursue these claims with both compassion and diligence. They understand the consequences that a wrongful death has on a family and fight to bring those responsible to justice in a civil court.