If you have lost a family member due to the negligence of another person or company, you may have the right to file a wrongful death suit on their behalf. While no amount of money can return your loved one, a civil lawsuit can help prevent this from happening to another family. Discussing your legal options with a Columbus personal injury attorney may give you the insight you need into a wrongful death claim.
In some cases, death can leave that person’s family in a difficult situation. Anyone dependent on the decedent’s salary could quickly find themselves in a financial hole. With the assistance of a Columbus wrongful death lawyer, your family may be able to recover the compensation they need to survive.
Under Georgia law, a “wrongful death” is a death due to a negligent, reckless, criminal, or intentional act. Proving negligence in a Columbus wrongful death case is similar to that in a car crash lawsuit. A plaintiff must show the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty, and that breach damaged the plaintiff.
Unlike a car crash lawsuit, the decedent cannot bring a lawsuit in their own name. The person with the right to bring a wrongful death suit can vary under Georgia law. The guidance of an experienced Columbus wrongful death attorney might help in identifying the appropriate party to file suit.
The person with the standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia varies depending on the circumstances. However, state law applies a formula used to identify the party with standing to file suit. The right to file suit necessarily follows a hierarchy. The right travels down the list of potential family members until it reaches someone with the ability to file a lawsuit.
A surviving spouse always has the strongest claim to file a Georgia wrongful death suit. If the couple had minor children, the surviving spouse retains the right to file suit but must represent each minor child during the proceedings. The right to file goes to surviving children if the decedent has no spouse.
Next on the list are the parents of the deceased person. The surviving parents may only file if there are no surviving spouses or children. If the parents are not alive, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may bring the claim.
Every type of lawsuit in Georgia has a statute of limitations. This statute sets a time limit on the filing of a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is not filed before the time limit expires, the court can dismiss a claim. In other words, missing this deadline could cost you the opportunity to recover compensation from the person responsible for the death of your loved one.
According to Georgia law, the statute of limitations on a wrongful death case is two years from the date of death. Most of the time, the ability to file a lawsuit is lost once two years elapse. However, it is worth noting there are limited exceptions that can extend the 2-year window. For example, the statute of limitations may be tolled temporarily if the decedent’s estate has not been through probate or if there is a pending criminal case related to the same cause of death.
A Columbus wrongful death lawyer might be able to help you recover monetary compensation for the death of your loved one. While this money can never replace a member of your family, the process could prevent a similar result from happening to someone else in the future. When you are ready, reach out to an attorney to learn more about how a wrongful death claim works.