When a loved one dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, it is normal to feel conflicted about bringing a lawsuit. On the one hand, no amount of money will bring that person back. On the other hand, you may be faced with significant financial concerns and a need for justice. At the Law Office of Michael R. Braun, an experienced Atlanta wrongful death attorney understands both your grief and your need for tangible compensation and recovery. He serves plaintiffs who have lost their loved ones in Atlanta and surrounding areas.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
Close family members can bring a wrongful death claim in the context of a car collision, premises liability, medical negligence or any other situation in which someone’s failure to use due care causes someone’s death. Under O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2, a surviving spouse is the first person to be able to bring a wrongful death suit. She or he is expected to share the recovery with any children that also survive, but no matter how many children survive a spouse will not receive less than 1/3 of the recovery. When there is no surviving spouse, children may bring a wrongful death suit and if there are no children, a decedent’s parents may bring suit. When a decedent leaves behind none of these survivors, his estate can file the lawsuit.
In many cases, the wrongful death claimant will have to demonstrate negligence. He will have to prove (1) the defendant’s duty, (2) breach of that duty, (3) that the defendant’s conduct was an actual and proximate cause of his injury, and (4) damages. If he is able to demonstrate these elements, he can recover both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are clear, tangible losses such as including the defendant’s expected future income including expected raises, medical expenses and funeral costs, and out-of-pocket expenses. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of parental guidance and loss of companionship. The latter depends partly on a plaintiff’s relationship with the decedent. The law recognizes that closer relationships may require greater compensation than relationships between estranged loved ones.
Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule, even in wrongful death cases. This means that a decedent’s survivors cannot recover if the decedent was 50% or more at fault for his death. If the decedent was less than 50% at fault, his survivors’ recovery may be reduced by his percentage of fault.
Retain an Experienced Attorney to Recover Damages
The aftermath of a fatal accident, whether caused by a surgical error or a defective product, can be extremely difficult. If your spouse, parent, or child was killed because of somebody else’s negligence, it is important to retain your own experienced Atlanta wrongful death lawyer to build a strong case and make sure you recover the damages you need. Our office serves clients whose loved ones have been killed in accidents in Bartow, Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, and all Metro-Atlanta Counties. Contact us at (770) 421-6888 or via our online form.