Jonesboro Wrongful Death Attorneys
The death of a loved one because of the negligence or carelessness of another person or company is devastating. In many cases your sudden loss is made even worse by the unplanned expenses and uncertainty about the future.
The Millar Law Firm is here to help, listen, and learn the facts and circumstances of your case. We are highly experienced in wrongful death cases and can provide you with immediate guidance in this difficult time. We have deep knowledge of the wrongful death laws in Georgia and over 25 years of hands-on experience in the Atlanta-area and Clayton County State, Superior and Probate court systems.
We are here to help you and your family with sympathy, compassion and sensitivity.
Compensation and Damages Awarded in a Wrongful Death Case
With twenty-six years’ experience, The Millar Law Firm helps surviving families recover compensation for the death of their loved ones in a wrongful death action.
There are generally two types of compensation that you and your loved ones can recover in a wrongful death tragedy:
- Economic Damages, which include things like medical bills and funeral and burial costs, past and future lost pay and earnings, as in the income a person was expected to make in their lifetime before their wrongful death.
- Noneconomic Damages can include the pain and suffering your loved one experienced prior to their death, and the loss of care, protection, love and companionship of the person lost (also known in Georgia as a loss of consortium).
- Punitive damages are sometimes also given to punish the at-fault defendant for his or her bad behavior, or to deter the person or company from acting the same way in the future.
In Georgia, wrongful death cases are generally based on the full value of a person’s life. A court or jury will look at the value of a person’s life from the perspective of the deceased. The economic damages from the loss of your loved one include what they were reasonably anticipated to earn during their lifetime.
Factors that can be calculated into these damages include the person’s age, job, education, and the status of their health before their wrongful death. In many cases, the future earnings of a person based on their skills and employment history, such as plumber, framer, truck driver, attorney or doctor, or other professional, can lead to high calculations of what would have been their future earnings.
Noneconomic damages are based on a jury’s “enlightened conscience.” This means the jury will listen to testimony and consider evidence of how the person lived their life and what they were looking forward to in the future.
Punitive damages may also be awarded if there is evidence that a person who caused the death of another acted willfully or wantonly with disregard for others. Examples of this include wrongful death as the result of a drunk driving accident or the failure of a business to provide adequate lighting in the parking lot to prevent assault on consumers by a third-party.
Although we understand that no amount of compensation will ever bring your loved one back, it can help to alleviate the additional financial stresses and burdens that come with the sudden loss of someone you loved.
Proving a Wrongful Death
The primary question to be answered in a wrongful death case is whether the death could have been prevented by another person. Although there may be a criminal prosecution related to the fatality, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that is separate and distinct from any criminal charges. The standard of proof is lower in a civil case than it is in a criminal case for murder or manslaughter.
Some common wrongful death claims in Clayton County that we handle include deaths caused by:
- Automobile Accidents, whether caused by distracted, reckless, or drunk driving
- Negligent Failure of a business (stores, restaurants, apartment complexes) to provide enough security
- Workplace Injuries
- Medical Malpractice
- Dangerous Drugs and Defective Products
Each of these situations is highly fact-specific and therefore it is critical that you seek competent legal advice as quickly as possible after the wrongful death of your loved one.
With twenty-six years’ experience, the attorneys at The Millar Law Firm understand the facts to be proven in each wrongful death case. Our attorneys will collect detailed evidence in your case to ensure those responsible for the death of your loved one are held accountable.
The Wrongful Death Case Process
The process starts with a free consultation at no risk to you. We take the time to sit down with you, learn the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, and help you make the best decisions for you and your loved ones.
If we take your case, we immediately begin to investigate. We gather evidence such as police reports, any potential records of similar instances or previous complaints about the dangerous condition, and any witness testimony. The Millar Law Firm investigates so that you and your family may focus on the important tasks of grieving and moving forward.
In almost all cases it is important to begin the investigation as soon as possible because the insurance company for the at-fault person or company may also be conducting their own investigation. Important evidence may disappear or be hidden. Thus, time is not on your side.
The insurance company for the defendant usually does not have your best interests in mind. We understand the tactics used by insurance companies to try and limit compensation in a wrongful death claim, and we fight to ensure that you and your family get the compensation and justice you deserve.
Who May Bring A Wrongful Death Claim or Lawsuit in Georgia?
In Georgia, the people who are entitled to file a lawsuit for the wrongful death of a loved one are the deceased’s surviving spouse and/or children, surviving parents, or a representative (administrator) of the estate.
Although most Georgia wrongful death claims are filed by a spouse or children, at other times, a wrongful death claim or lawsuit may be brought by someone else.
In Georgia, a parent may recover an amount intended to represent the full value of the life of a child lost. O.C.G.A. 19-7-1(c) (2010). The loss of a child is often calculated by a Jury making an award representative of the loss of future enjoyment of life.
A Probate Court and the Deceased’s Estate
Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 51-4-2, the surviving spouse or children of a wrongfully killed person can bring a wrongful death action. The deceased person’s estate through a personal representative can and usually will also bring a claim against the responsible parties for medical bills and final expenses as well as pain and suffering and in some cases punitive damages, especially if there was a large corporation at fault. In Georgia, the estate can also seek medical expenses, funeral expenses, and compensation for any pre-death pain and suffering.
In some cases, there is not someone able to bring the wrongful death case on behalf of the family. The administrator or executor of the estate can sometimes be allowed to bring the case and hold recovery for the family under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 51-4-5.
Under Georgia law, these claims can be made after the probate court appoints either a temporary or permanent administrator of the estate. This process usually consists of filing a petition in the county where the deceased last lived, requesting that the Probate Court appoints a personal representative. In cases where there is a will, this is usually the executor of the estate and in cases where there is no will, this will usually be the administrator. Any money recovered then goes through the estate and is distributed to the deceased’s heirs by the personal representative.
Statute of Limitations – How much time do you have to file a lawsuit?
In Georgia, there is a two-year statute of limitations on filing wrongful death claims. This means that the wrongful death claim must either be filed or settled within two years of the negligent act or omission that caused your loved one’s wrongful death.
On the other hand, claims by the victim’s Estate may have more time. The Estate may have up to two years from the date an administrator or personal representative is appointed, and up to five years to file a lawsuit if there is no probate.
It is also important to know that if a wrongful death has been caused by a government (state, city or county, or federal employee), you will have to file a special notice known as an ante-litem notice. The deadlines can be as short as six months for cities and twelve months for counties, the State of Georgia and the U.S. government.
How Much is a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim Worth?
The value of your wrongful death claim is based on a monetary representation of the full value of your loved one’s life as found by a court or a jury. This value is determined based on the “enlightened conscience” of the Jury or Judge based on the evidence presented. Our law firm is ready to present the evidence of your loss with skill and compassion.
Wrongful death cases can be complex and life-changing. We are here to answer your questions and help protect your legal rights. When you are ready to explore your legal options call or message us for a free, no-risk consultation. 770-400-0000.