A yellow rose sits atop a gravestone

Types of recovery for wrongful death?

If your loved one died as a result of another party’s misconduct or negligence, you could claim damages in a wrongful death lawsuit to retrieve the compensation you deserve.

However, you’ll need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side to get those damages. Visit Haug Law Group’s Personal Injury Legal Definitions and Terms page and look into what your wrongful death lawsuit may entail.

All About Wrongful Death

Wrongful death occurs when a person or entity is negligent or misconduct happens, and your loved one dies as a result. If you’re filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s going to be a civil lawsuit, not a criminal one. The defendant would have to be charged separately to serve time in prison and pay fines, among other consequences. You can file your wrongful death lawsuit before, during, or after criminal charges are filed.

Only eligible survivors may file a civil wrongful death suit. In Georgia, eligible survivors include:

  • The spouse of the person who died
  • If there is no spouse, their children
  • If there is no spouse and there are no children, then the living parents of the person who died
  • If the person had no spouse, children, or living parent, then the person who is their estate administrator could file

Keep in mind that the wrongful death claim must be filed within the statute of limitations in Georgia, which is two years. The sooner you can file, the better chances you have of winning damages.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit include ones that have an economic and non-economic impact.

Economic damages could include:

  • Medical bills from the injury that ultimately caused the death
  • The loss of future earnings and bonuses
  • Burial and funeral expenses

Future earnings are taken into account because the decedent is no longer going to be there to provide for the household. Bonuses are also included because it is fair to say that your loved one may have earned them had they worked until retirement age.

Non-economic damages could include:

  • Conscious pain and suffering that your loved one endured before passing away
  • The loss of household contributions and other services
  • The loss of companionship

Starting from the date your loved one died, the damages will include interest. Punitive death damages cannot be claimed in a Georgia wrongful death case.

Examples of Wrongful Death

There are many examples of when a wrongful death could apply. They include:

  • Reckless driving
  • Medical malpractice
  • Contaminated food
  • Defective merchandise
  • Intentional homicide
  • Unsafe medical devices
  • Nursing home abuse or neglect
  • Defective construction

You may be able to file for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit if a drunk driver hit your loved one and your loved one subsequently died at the scene or succumbed to their injuries at a later date.

You also might be able to sue if you purchased a defective product and it injured your loved one so badly that they passed away from their injuries.

In another example, if a doctor performed the wrong surgery on your loved one and they died after, medical malpractice may be at play. 

Medical malpractice is very difficult to prove, and many cases get thrown out before they can even go to court. The legal system makes it very difficult to file a medical malpractice suit because it doesn’t want to encourage people to sue doctors. Having a lawyer who is experienced with medical malpractice is key to winning your case.

How To Prove Wrongful Death

To prove wrongful death, you’ll first need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. They will let you know what evidence you need, including:

  • Photographs of the scene of the accident, defective products, injuries, and more
  • Video footage of what happened
  • Witness statements from people who were there when it happened
  • Medical records
  • Police records

After a wrongful death, the defendant’s insurance company may try to get you to settle quickly. However, this is not a good idea for a few reasons. The first is that right after your loved one passes away, you’re grieving. You don’t want to make any rushed decisions in those moments. Instead, you need time to think and process what happened.

Also, an insurance company is going to offer you the lowest settlement they can get away with. They don’t really care about you and what you’re going through. They only worry about their bottom line. You may think if you don’t accept their offer, you won’t get one altogether, but that’s just not true.

Instead, call a personal injury lawyer to help. They will negotiate a settlement with the insurance company and take your case to court if need be. Every step of the way, they’ll fight for you to get you the damages in a wrongful death lawsuit that you deserve.

To find out more, contact Haug Law Group today.