Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one unexpectedly is scary.
You may be experiencing feelings of shock, loss, and sadness. At the same time, you may be wrestling with a sense of responsibility and duty to take the next steps. All of this can be overwhelming.
We can help lighten the load while working toward achieving the closure you may need.
Some Steps to Take After a Wrongful Death:
Professional thieves exist who take advantage of the confusion immediately after an unexpected death. They will steal from the unattended homes, vehicles, and other personal property of the recently deceased. Take a moment to make sure your loved one’s valuables are properly secured and monitored.
First, identify your support network to help lighten the load. This could be family, friends, church, or all of the above. Then, identify a reputable funeral home who can help you through this planning process and make it easy on you and your family.
Locate important legal documents that could be important in the coming days and weeks. These documents could include: wills and trust paperwork, death certificate, marriage certificate, titles, deeds, tax records, bank account records, life insurance records, etc.
Consult An Attorney
You will likely need an attorney to assist you in setting up an estate through the Probate Court. You will need an estate to settle your loved one's affairs. It's also wise to consult with an attorney if you suspect your loved one's life was cut short due to someone else's wrongful conduct.
What is a "wrongful death" ?
A wrongful death is actually a broad term that's often used to help nonlawyers understand their legal rights. Technically, it describes two separate legal claims created by Georgia's statutes. These claims arise when someone has lost their life due to the wrongful – or negligent – conduct of someone else.
These statutes permit surviving family members and/or estate administrators to pursue civil justice for the unnecessary loss of life. Incidentally, these claims allow the families to achieve closure on their sudden loss of a loved one.
What are the two types of claims that can be pursued, and who can pursue them?
In Georgia, the first claim that can be pursued is for the "full value of the life of the decedent." Legally and technically, this is termed the "wrongful death" claim and it represents the value of what has been lost to the family. This claim can be pursued by surviving family members, in this order:
Surviving Spouse; (if no surviving spouse, then:)
Surviving Child or Children: (if no surviving child or children, then:)
The second claim that can be pursued is termed the "survival action," also referred to as the "estate claim." This claim only falls to the Estate Administrator, on behalf of the estate. It allows the Estate Administrator to "stand in the shoes" of the deceased and recover compensation as if the deceased had survived - hence, the term "survival action."
What type of compensation may be available for a Georgia Wrongful Death?
There are two broad types of compensation that coincide with the two types of claims that may be pursued.
Georgia's wrongful death statute allows for the compensation for "the full value of the life of the decedent" that has been lost to the deceased's surviving family. As stated above, this claim can be pursued by the surviving spouse, surviving children, or if none exist, the estate administrator. Typically, this compensation includes:
Value of future earnings (i.e. future wages)
Value of future services (i.e. household responsibilities)
Intangible value of life (i.e. lost experiences with friends, family, etc.)
Compensation under Georgia's survival action allows for compensation that the deceased could have recovered, personally, if they had lived. These include:
Other necessary expenses;
Pain and suffering; and
What will a Georgia Wrongful Death attorney do?
An experienced Georgia wrongful death attorney may be able to help to lighten your load in several ways:
Provide Legal Counsel: Most importantly, an attorney can provide you guidance during this process and answer any questions that may come up.
Probate/Estate: If the deceased has a will, an attorney can help get the will "probated" - or making it enforceable. If a will does not exist, the attorney can help establish an estate through the Probate Court.
Life Insurance: If the deceased has a life insurance policy, the attorney can assist the policy's beneficiary obtain those proceeds.
Investigate: An attorney will immediately begin investigating the incident that caused your loved one's death, preserve evidence, interview witness, and do other tasks to preserve the wrongful death claim.
Coordinate Autopsy: If the cause of death is disputed, the attorney can help identify an independent medical examiner to perform an autopsy and serve as an expert in the case.
Pursue Legal Claims: The attorney will also provide all representation to pursue wrongful death/survival action claims through the courts.
How much does a Georgia Wrongful Death attorney cost?
Wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. Stated another way, there are no upfront costs or retainer, and a wrongful death attorney only receives compensation when the claims have been resolved.
On the flip side, this also means that you do not owe the attorney any money, even if the claims fail for one reason or another.
Contact a Georgia Attorney for a Free Consultation. No Commitments.
Losing a loved one is tough. Often, the first step is just getting some of your questions answered. We can help.
Contact Wheale Law Firm for a free consultation to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. We don't mind answering your questions in this time of need.
You can call us at (678) 580-8936 or send an email. No Commitments.
Alternatively, continue to review this page to get your questions answered, or visit our frequently asked questions to understand what the future may hold.
Wheale Law provides legal services exclusively on a contingent fee basis. In other words, you pay no upfront costs. Wheale Law only collects attorney's fees if your case successfully resolves.
What are common causes of Georgia wrongful deaths?
Deaths resulting from the careless and negligent acts of other people most commonly occur in the following situations:
Tractor-trailer/semi-trailer accidents and collisions;
Car/automobile accidents and collisions;
Drunk driver accidents and collisions;
Medical and/or pharmacy errors;
Nursing home neglect or abuse;
Criminal victims and/or negligent security;
Faulty or poor construction;
Head injury from a slip, trip, and fall;
Negligently manufactured or designed product;
Other product defect or failure;
Dangerous pharmaceutical drug; and
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