There is no personal tragedy more devastating than the sudden loss of a loved one in an accident, especially if that accident came out of someone else’s negligent action or inaction. However, while state law does allow certain parties to file suit on a deceased individual’s behalf, the rules and regulations that govern this type of civil claim differ in several ways from those applicable to other cases.
In order to effectively pursue civil justice on your loved one’s behalf, it is generally a good idea to seek help from a dedicated personal injury attorney with particular experience handling this kind of case. With guidance from a knowledgeable Jonesboro wrongful death lawyer, you could have a much better chance of successfully navigating state law and seeking the compensation your family needs.
How Wrongful Death Cases and Personal Injury Claims Differ
As defined under state law, a “wrongful death” can occur due to legal negligence, reckless behavior, or an intentional criminal act. In all of these scenarios, the same standard of proof applies. There would be a cause for civil action if a decedent’s death would not have occurred but for the actions of the defendant(s).
However, the primary way in which wrongful death claims are unique is that the plaintiff cannot file suit on their own behalf for damages they personally suffered. Because of this, certain people may bring a wrongful death claim forward on a deceased person’s behalf under Official Code of Georgia §51-4-2, starting with the decedent’s surviving spouse and followed, in order of priority, by the decedent’s adult children and surviving parents.
If none of these parties are available to file suit, O.C.G.A. §51-4-5 the decedent’s estate representative is allowed to file suit on their behalf. A seasoned accidental death attorney in the area could help any of the aforementioned parties explore their options for pursuing litigation.
Possible Restrictions on Recovery Following a Wrongful Death
In addition to limitations on who can serve as the plaintiff in a wrongful death suit, state law also restricts what types of damages a plaintiff may seek compensation for. Specifically, it requires plaintiffs and their lawyers to file two separate cases in order to pursue full recovery—a wrongful death claim for damages suffered by the decedent’s surviving family, and a survival action for damages suffered by the decedent’s estate and the decedent themselves prior to their death.
Furthermore, wrongful death claims are beholden to a two-year statutory filing deadline under O.C.G.A. §9-3-33, albeit with a few key exceptions. For example, O.C.G.A. §9-3-92 allows for this deadline to be “tolled”—or paused—for a maximum of five years if the decedent’s estate still needs to go through probate court. O.C.G.A. §9-3-99 tolls the statutory deadline for wrongful death cases up to a maximum of six years after the date of death until an associated criminal case concludes. A local wrongful death attorney could further explain these laws to a plaintiff so they know the proper timeframe for filing suit.
Seek Counsel from a Jonesboro Wrongful Death Attorney
If an accident borne of negligence ends in someone’s death, this does not mean the party responsible for that accident cannot still be held liable for it. Through wrongful death and survival action litigation, surviving family members of the decedent could seek recovery for various losses that both they and their deceased loved one suffered.
While financial compensation for a loved one’s death cannot truly ease the pain, it can often be an important part of stabilizing your family’s finances after a tragic loss, ensuring you can restore some semblance of normalcy to your lives. To learn how a Jonesboro wrongful death lawyer could help you, call today.