Savannah Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a loved one in a fatal accident is a tragedy that nothing can ever make right. Holding a person or party accountable for the death of your family member, however, can bring your loved one justice and your family closure. At Bowen Painter Trial Lawyers, our Savannah wrongful death lawyers can give your loved one a voice in the civil justice system in Georgia. We will strive to achieve the results that you deserve and address your financial and legal needs during this difficult time.
Why Hiring a Trial Attorney in Savannah Matters
There are trial attorneys and non-trial attorneys. Choosing a trial attorney in Savannah can make an important difference to the financial outcome of your case as well as your overall legal experience. Trial attorneys prepare each case as if it will go to trial, with careful attention to details and important evidence. This can build a stronger overall claim.
Trial attorneys are also powerful representatives during insurance settlement negotiations. The defendant’s insurance company will want to avoid going to trial, as a trial is more expensive than a settlement. When the insurance company realizes that a plaintiff’s attorney has the power to go to court, it is more likely to offer a larger, more fair settlement for a fatal injury. Although no amount of money can replace your loved one’s life, obtaining a full and just settlement may allow your family to move forward with less financial stress.
Please contact our personal injury attorneys in Savannah, Georgia today to begin your case with a 100-percent free evaluation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
If someone is negligent or reckless, that person’s actions can have devastating consequences. In personal injury law, a person is negligent if he or she is careless in a way that causes harm or injury to someone else. If another person or party’s negligence, wrongful act, or intent to harm caused or contributed to your loved one’s fatal injury, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia.
Georgia law defines wrongful death as the death of a human as a result of criminal negligence, ordinary negligence, a crime, or from a defective product whether or not it is the result of negligence. Unlike in a criminal case, you do not have to prove intent to harm to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit. If someone owed your loved one a duty to exercise reasonable care (to use an appropriate amount of care), breached or violated this duty in a way that a reasonable party would not have, and this caused your loved one’s fatal injury, you may have a claim.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Savannah
Your family may have a wrongful death lawsuit after the death of a loved one due to many different circumstances that could have been avoided with due care, prudence, caution, and adherence to the law. At Bowen Painter Trial Lawyers, our wrongful death attorneys have experience handling many different types of accident cases, including:
- Car accident
- Tractor-trailer accident
- Pedestrian or bicycle accident
- Drunk driving accident
- Defective roadway accident
- Premises liability accident
- Defective product injury
- Workplace accident
- Industrial accident
- Maritime accident
- Medical malpractice
If your loved one lost his or her life in any of these preventable types of accidents, contact us to find out how we can help you with a wrongful death civil claim. You may also have grounds for a claim if your loved one’s life was taken by a criminal, such as in an intentional assault or homicide. It is possible to file a civil wrongful death claim at the same time as an ongoing criminal case in Georgia.
What Damages Are Available in a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim?
In any personal injury lawsuit in Georgia, including a wrongful death case, a defendant’s liability is expressed in terms of financial compensation, also known as damages. In a successful wrongful death case, the courts will order the defendant(s) to pay damages to a deceased individual’s survivors, beneficiaries or the estate. This financial compensation is meant to make it easier for a family to pay for related losses and move forward with greater financial security.
Examples of compensatory damages that may be available in a wrongful death case in Georgia are:
- Medical expenses related to the decedent’s final injury or illness
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Other necessary costs related to the death
- Lost wages and employment benefits – both existing and what the decedent reasonably would have earned in the future had he or she lived
- Loss of the loved one’s care, guidance, and companionship
A wrongful death claim may also result in punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not intended to make survivors whole again but to punish the defendant for, especially wrongful or egregious acts instead. Punitive damages may arise in wrongful death cases due to the fact that the defendant’s actions resulted in death. A judge may award punitive damages to teach the defendant a lesson and to set a precedent for others in the community.
If damages are awarded in a wrongful death case in Georgia, they may go to both the deceased person’s surviving loved ones and the estate. Your family may receive financial compensation for the full value of your loved one’s life, including economic and non-economic damages. Surviving loved ones will share a settlement or jury verdict based on the decedent’s will or Georgia’s laws of intestate succession.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Savannah, Georgia?
Georgia’s statute of limitations – or deadline to file a claim – is two years from the date of the victim’s death, in most cases. However, the two-year clock can be temporarily paused (tolled) in certain circumstances. If the death was the result of a crime, for example, the courts will toll the statute of limitations until the completion of a related criminal case, up to a maximum of six years. The courts will also extend the deadline for up to five years if the decedent’s estate has not yet been probated.
Determining Liability in a Savannah Wrongful Death Claim
Anytime someone loses their life because of another person’s negligence, it is devastating. Compensation can often be recovered, but it can sometimes be difficult to show who is actually responsible for the death and who should be liable for compensating any surviving loved ones. The main way to determine if someone is liable for the wrongful death is to use the negligence framework.
Duty: In order for someone to be held liable for a wrongful death claim, there must have been a duty of care owed to the decedent by the defendant. For example, in a car accident case that causes the death of another person, the plaintiff must show that the decedent owed the victim a duty of care. By simply driving on the roads, all drivers have a duty of care to keep others around them safe.
Breach: The next thing that must be shown is that the defendant breached this duty of care. This could mean the defendant was drinking and driving, not following the rules of the road, or was distracted and not driving safely.
The Defendant’s Breach was the Proximate Cause of The Victim’s Death: If the defendant was negligent but their conduct wasn’t the cause of the decedent’s death, they won’t be held liable regardless of how negligent their conduct was.
The Surviving Loved Ones Suffered Harm: In order to have a successful wrongful death claim, the person filing the claim must actually have suffered harm or losses.
Common Defenses to Wrongful Death Claims
Losing someone you love due to someone else’s actions and negligence can be absolutely devastating. Depending on the circumstances, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim and recover the compensation that you certainly deserve. When a claim like this is filed, however, the defendant will try to refute your claims. Often, settlements are reached, but if they believe that the case can be defended well and won, this might not happen. Some of the most common legal defenses to wrongful death claims include the following:
The Victim Was Under the Influence: A named defendant may try to claim that the deceased was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and that was the reason for their death – especially in car accident cases.
Victim Shouldn’t Have Been Driving: Another possible defense is to argue that the deceased should not have been driving because they were tired or distracted. The named defendant will try their best to show that this was the cause of the death and not their actions.
Deceased Was Doing Job Improperly: If the victim’s death occurred at the workplace, the employer will likely try to argue that the deceased was responsible for what happened. They could argue that the victim wasn’t doing their job correctly or didn’t take proper safety precautions.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Savannah?
It’s important to know who is permitted to file a wrongful death claim when a family member or other loved one loses their life because of someone else’s negligence. In Savannah Georgia, the following individuals are permitted to file a wrongful death claim:
Spouse: The surviving spouse is always permitted to file a wrongful death claim. Any compensation recovered through this claim should be split evenly between the spouse and any children. If there are no children, the spouse is entitled to all of the compensation.
Children: A child of the deceased is also permitted to file a claim. If there isn’t a surviving spouse, any compensation recovered will be split evenly amongst any children.
Parents: Parents of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim if there is no surviving spouse or children.
Executor of the Will: If the deceased does not have any surviving spouse, children, or parents, the executor of the will is permitted to file a wrongful death claim.
Speak to an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in Savannah Today
Wrongful death is something that no family should ever have to endure. If the worst has happened, please contact our wrongful death lawyers in Savannah to find out how we can help. Discuss all of the ways in which our attorneys can assist you after the tragic loss of a loved one in Savannah, Georgia, or the surrounding areas. We also accept clients in the coastal regions of South Carolina and Florida. Call (912) 335-1909 or contact us online today to request a free case consultation.