It is devastating when a person dies prematurely due to someone else’s careless, reckless, or criminal act. Although nothing can bring back your loved one, pursuing a lawsuit against the wrongdoer could help your family cope with the loss and gain a sense of justice.
If someone else’s wrongdoing caused your loved one’s death, reach out to a compassionate attorney. At the Gunn Law Group, a Macon wrongful death lawyer could explain your options and help you and your grieving family move forward.
Situations that Might Lead to Wrongful Death
Although every premature death is a tragedy, not every instance is a wrongful death under the law. In general, a death that results from someone else’s negligent or criminal act is legally wrongful. The death need not be immediate; if a person suffers an injury and later dies of the injury or its complications, the law could consider their passing a wrongful death.
Any situation that might have led to a personal injury lawsuit if the person had lived could support a wrongful death lawsuit. A family could consider bringing a wrongful death action for various scenarios such as:
- Motor vehicle accident
- Medical error
- Violent crime
- Workplace incident
- Nursing home’s negligence or abuse
- Explosion or fire
- Drowning or near-drowning
- Defective product
When a family is unsure whether their situation merits bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is always a good idea to consult a Macon lawyer. An experienced attorney could review the circumstances to determine whether another party’s negligent or wrongful act or omission caused the death. If so, bringing a lawsuit could be an appropriate response.
Georgia Law Governs Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Wrongful death lawsuits differ in some specific ways from other civil actions seeking damages for negligence. In most negligence lawsuits, the injured person is the plaintiff. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the Official Code of Georgia §51-4-2 specifies who the plaintiff may be.
If the decedent was married, their surviving spouse must be the plaintiff. If the plaintiff was unmarried, any surviving children could bring the lawsuit, although a Guardian ad Litem might bring it on their behalf if they are minors. If the decedent did not leave a spouse or children, the parents could bring the lawsuit. The estate administrator could be the plaintiff if the decedent died without close kin.
Distributing a Wrongful Death Award
A local attorney could help a family understand how the law directs the proceeds of a wrongful death action to be distributed. In general, if the plaintiff is a surviving spouse and the decedent left no children, the spouse receives all the money. When there is a surviving spouse and children, the spouse and children share equally unless there are more than two surviving children. In that case, the spouse receives one-third of the proceeds, and the children share the remaining two-thirds.
Damages for Fatal Accidents
The law requires that the surviving family receive the full value of their loved one’s life as compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. The law uses this phrasing to describe the method courts should use to calculate damages in wrongful death cases.
Compensation should include the present value of the deceased person’s likely earnings for the rest of their working life if they had lived. Damages should consider the value of fringe benefits the decedent would have received and investment income they could have earned. A damages award should factor in the value of the deceased person’s services to the household, such as homemaking, vehicle maintenance and repair, caregiving to children or elder family members, and other services.
Damages in a wrongful death also include non-economic damages, such as loss of companionship. A Macon attorney could help a family determine an appropriate amount of damages to pursue in a wrongful death action.
Rely on a Macon Attorney to Get Justice for Your Loved One’s Death
If someone’s wrongful act led to your loved one’s premature death, the law provides you with an opportunity to hold the wrongdoer accountable. A wrongful death lawsuit could be a productive way for family members to work through their grief and hold the wrongdoer accountable.
A Macon wrongful death lawyer could offer legal advice with sympathy and compassion. Contact the team at the Gunn Law Group as soon as you are ready to discuss your situation with a dedicated attorney.