Losing a family member is often a devastating experience. The heartbreak can be even more intense when you believe the death could have been prevented if someone had only lived up to their responsibilities.
When a family member’s death is caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of another, the laws provide remedies to assist the grieving family who will miss the emotional and financial support and guidance of the loved one who suffered an untimely death. It may seem inappropriate to consider filing a lawsuit during a time of bereavement, but it is important to think of the family’s future.
A dedicated DeKalb County wrongful death lawyer realizes that this is vulnerable time in your life and that you need to focus on many things. When you work with a compassionate injury attorney who understands wrongful death claims, your attorney can handle the legal and business problems, leaving you free to concentrate on healing and moving forward.
The Wrongful Death Statute in DeKalb County
State statutes provide a means for family members to file a legal claim when a close relative is killed through homicide. People in DeKalb County often think of murder when they hear the term “homicide,” but the word is defined under Official Code of Georgia Annotated §51-4-1 to mean “all cases in which the death of a human being results from a crime, from criminal or other negligence, or from property which has been defectively manufactured, whether or not as the result of negligence.”
In other words, the death may have been caused by a crime such as murder, or it could have been caused by another person’s negligence or by a defective product. In any of these cases, the family may be able to recover under a wrongful death claim.
What Recovery is Available for Family Members?
Under the statute, the surviving spouse or children may recover “the full value of the life of the decedent.” This includes intangible aspects of life such as enjoying time with family as well as tangible value such as money earned through employment and the value of chores performed around the house.
It is important to note that money recovered under this provision cannot be taken by creditors to satisfy debts of the estate. If there is no surviving spouse or child, then the executor may bring an action to recover for the next of kin.
Recovery for the Estate
In addition to the value of life claim for the family, the deceased person’s estate may also be entitled to recover damages. The estate is the collection of assets and debts left behind by the deceased person and is managed by a personal representative.
The representative can file a claim to obtain compensation to cover medical bills, funeral expenses, and other estate expenses. It may also be possible to recover compensation for pain and suffering the decedent experienced prior to death. Amounts recovered by the estate are used to pay bills. Any remainder is distributed to the deceased person’s beneficiaries as set forth in a will or under law.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim?
Family members and personal representatives have only a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim under the state statute of limitations. That time limit may vary somewhat depending on the circumstances.
In many cases, the claim must be filed within two years of the death. However, that limit may be extended in certain situations, and depending on the party held responsible, the limit may also be much shorter in others. To learn what time limits are applicable in a particular case, it may be helpful to consult a DeKalb County wrongful death lawyer.
Contact a DeKalb County Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Nobody ever wants to be in the position of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. You would far rather have your loved one back with you. However, a claim can help your family be provided for in the future.
A wrongful death claim provides the opportunity to shift the financial burden from your family onto the shoulders of the ones who are responsible for causing the death. A DeKalb County wrongful death lawyer may help bring the truth to light and help your family move forward. To learn more, call now.