Losing a family member is devastating. The grieving process can be especially difficult if someone else’s actions or negligence caused their death. In addition to the expected grief, you might also be grappling with financial trouble brought on by unexpected medical bills, funeral costs, and lost income.
While there’s no way to erase the pain you’ve experienced, there are legal remedies that can address some of the financial losses you’ve suffered. If another person’s wrongful acts caused your family member’s death, a wrongful death claim could help you hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. It could also help you recover the financial resources you need to find a way forward.
The Woodstock wrongful death lawyers with the Geiger Law Group have spent more than 40 years helping people find a measure of justice after the wrongful death of a family member. Our Georgia personal injury lawyers are committed to recovering fair compensation for our clients. We handle every case with the compassion and dedication our grieving clients deserve. To learn more about how we can help you during this difficult time, contact our office in Woodstock for a free initial consultation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
In short, wrongful death is any death caused by someone else’s wrongful acts or inaction. Georgia law defines a wrongful death as one resulting from a criminal act, negligence, or defectively manufactured products. In certain circumstances, someone’s failure to act can also be defined as negligence.
One common form of wrongful death results from drunk driving accidents. All Georgia drivers have a responsibility to prevent other drivers from being injured through their actions and to follow traffic regulations. By driving drunk and causing a fatal accident, a drunk driver has broken the law and failed in their responsibility to protect other drivers. Under these facts, they could be held liable in a Georgia wrongful death action.
Drunk driving accidents are not the only cause of wrongful deaths in Georgia, however. Other examples of wrongful death include deaths caused by:
- Car accidents – Along with drunk driving, negligence such as distracted driving, driving while fatigued, speeding, and other forms of reckless driving can all lead to fatal crashes and wrongful death.
- Motorcycle accidents – Many drivers fail to exercise caution around motorcycles, making motorcyclists at greater risk of collisions. If a careless driver kills a motorcyclist in a crash, it might be considered a wrongful death.
- Truck accidents – Semi-trucks and other large vehicles can weigh as much as 30 times the weight of a typical passenger car. This means that they strike with greater force in the event of a collision. If the truck driver was intoxicated, distracted, or fatigued when the crash occurred, any resulting death may be a wrongful death. Mechanical defects and improper maintenance can also cause truck accidents, in which case the truck’s manufacturer or other parties could be held liable for a wrongful death.
- Bicycle accidents – If an impaired, distracted, or otherwise negligent driver hits and kills a bicyclist, they could be liable for a wrongful death.
- Pedestrian accidents – Similar to fatal bicycle accidents, a pedestrian struck and killed by a negligent driver might be considered a case of wrongful death.
- Medical malpractice – A study from Johns Hopkins University found that medical errors may be the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Even if these errors were unintentional, the doctor or another member of a patient’s care team might have been negligent, in which case the deceased’s family may be eligible to pursue a wrongful death case.
- Defective products – From vehicle part defects and dangerous children’s toys to defective medical and industrial equipment, defective products can cause wrongful deaths in various ways. The companies behind these products might be liable for the deaths they cause.
- Premises liability injuries (slip and falls, pool accidents, negligent security, etc.) – Residential and commercial landlords and property owners must maintain safe premises. If they fail to do so and cause a tenant’s or customer’s fatal accident, they might be liable for wrongful death.
- Intentional violent acts – Physical assaults, stabbings, shootings, and other violent acts are not only crimes. They can also be grounds for a civil wrongful death claim when the crime causes someone else to die.
How Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Help You?
When you’re grieving, the thought of initiating a complex legal action may be daunting, but it could also be crucial to you and your family’s future. More importantly, a trustworthy Woodstock wrongful death law firm can take on the legal complexities while you focus on your own mental and emotional recovery.
Here are a few ways a wrongful death attorney can help you with your case:
- Investigating your claim – We can launch an immediate and thorough investigation into your claim to determine all of the parties and factors that contributed to your loved one’s death.
- Gathering evidence to support your claim – You’ll need strong evidence to substantiate a wrongful death case. A wrongful death lawyer can gather the evidence necessary to prove your claim, such as police or accident reports, medical records, eyewitness accounts, and photos from the accident scene.
- Documenting the harm you’ve suffered – Through a wrongful death claim, the deceased’s family can claim compensation for a wide range of losses. To get the full and fair compensation you deserve, these losses must be properly documented using medical bills, pay stubs, receipts, and other objective documentation. Your wrongful death attorney knows how to build a persuasive argument that substantiates the economic and subjective losses you’ve suffered.
- Negotiating for a fair settlement – Most wrongful death claims are settled through negotiations with an insurance company before the case reaches civil court. Unfortunately, insurers are businesses that work to minimize their payouts. You’ll need a skilled negotiator to represent your interests and who will aggressively advocate for a full settlement.
- Filing the claim in a timely manner – In Georgia, wrongful death claims generally must be filed within two years of the date of death, but there are exceptions in which the claim must be filed sooner. If you wait too long to start your claim, you might be unable to recover any compensation for your loss. An attorney can file the necessary documents in time to begin your wrongful death case.
- Representing you in court – If the insurance company fails to agree to a fair settlement, your attorney can continue your pursuit of justice through the litigation process. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can prepare a strong case that proves who was responsible for your loved one’s death and how much they should pay.
What Happens in a Woodstock Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Georgia law, wrongful death claims must be brought by the deceased’s surviving spouse, surviving children (if there’s no surviving spouse), surviving parents (if there’s no surviving spouse or surviving children), or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate (if none of the above parties are living).
Once an eligible party decides to file a lawsuit, the next step is to thoroughly investigate the deceased’s death. This entails examining the deceased’s medical records, accident reports, and other evidence.
After your wrongful death attorney reviews all the available evidence, the next step is determining if one or more parties were negligent in causing your loved one’s death. Your lawyer will substantiate the negligence that caused your family member’s death, document that the at-fault person had a legal obligation to prevent the deceased from injury, and show that person failed in that obligation.
If the evidence shows that one or more parties’ negligence resulted in your family member’s death, your lawyer will draft a demand letter to send to the negligent party’s insurance company. This letter will outline the basic facts of the case and include a demand for full and fair monetary compensation. At this point, settlement negotiations will begin.
There are two ways settlement negotiations can end. If the insurance company makes a fair offer, you could accept the agreement and end your claim. If negotiations fail, however, you might choose to bring your case to court. A judge or jury will then weigh the evidence and determine liability and damages, if applicable.
What Wrongful Death Damages Can You Recover?
State law allows surviving family members to claim substantial compensation in wrongful death claims, including money for:
- The deceased’s medical bills related to the fatal incident
- Funeral and burial costs
- The deceased’s future earnings and other financial benefits
- The loss of companionship and services your loved one would have provided
- The lost care, affection, and support from the deceased
- The emotional harm suffered by the deceased’s family members
Contact Geiger Legal Group Today for Help with Your Wrongful Death Case
When someone’s life is cut short due to someone else’s negligence or an intentional act, their surviving family members deserve fair compensation and accountability. Geiger Legal Group is a family-run law firm, so we know how important family connections are. We will fight to protect your loved one’s legacy and your right to fair compensation due to the careless acts of others. To learn more about how the compassionate team at Geiger Legal Group can help with your wrongful death case, call our Woodstock office or visit our contact page for a free initial consultation.