Losing a loved one in an unexpected accident could devastate the surviving family members. Grief may turn to anger upon discovering that death results from careless negligence or a deliberate act. Georgia’s criminal statutes address incidents of murder or manslaughter, but a guilty verdict won’t help survivors deal with the financial aftermath of a close relative’s passing. However, the state’s civil code may offer options for filing a wrongful death lawsuit for those with legal standing.
The elements of wrongful death
Key points to consider about wrongful death claims center on legal standing and the statute of limitations. Standing refers to whether a plaintiff is eligible to bring a wrongful death suit forward. Spouses, of course, would have the standing to file a lawsuit, and so would children if there is no surviving spouse. If the deceased had no spouse or children, parents might file. When all of those relatives are deceased, the estate’s executor may bring a lawsuit forward.
The statute of limitations refers to when someone may file a lawsuit. In general, the period is two years from the death, unless tolled under certain statutory provisions.
Also, negligence or deliberate actions must factor into the wrongful death. Medical malpractice could provide a strong basis for a case. However, suing the doctor when someone dies of natural causes may be impossible.
Recovering Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit
Survivors may file wrongful death suits to seek punitive damages to punish the responsible party. In addition, when the deceased’s past earnings provided financial support, the family may struggle without the individual’s earnings. Recovering lost wages and future earnings serve as two motivators.
The lawsuit could also center on the loss of companionship and emotional distress. Plaintiffs may seek the most compensation possible in such a lawsuit.