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Understanding Wrongful Death

By Ramsey Prather on September 20, 2023

The love we share with the people around us is one of life’s greatest gifts, and nothing prepares you for the loss of a loved one. It’s even more crushing to discover that your loved one’s life was senselessly taken away by the careless or criminal act of another.

Nothing can ever make up for what was taken from you, but a wrongful death action will discourage others from engaging in the thoughtless behavior that leads to these horrible tragedies. A wrongful death claim will also help make sure that the victim’s survivors have the resources they need to recover and heal so they can get on with their lives.

How Do You Know If Your Loved One Suffered a Wrongful Death?

According to Georgia Law, a wrongful death occurs as the result of criminal negligence, other negligence, or due to property that has been defectively manufactured. A wrongful death action aims to get financial compensation for the victim’s survivors.

Although the person who injured your loved one may be subject to criminal prosecution, a wrongful death action is a civil lawsuit. A criminal prosecution is not required to seek compensation if your loved one died because of someone’s negligent behavior, and the burden of proof in a civil case is much lower.

To secure a criminal conviction in Georgia, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But in a civil case, it is only necessary to prove that it was “more likely than not” that the defendant caused your loved one’s death.

Successful wrongful death lawsuits result from these types of cases:

  • A drunk driver ran a red light and crashed into a motorcycle rider who was making a left turn.
  • An automobile manufacturer failed to properly test a product or continued to sell a product they knew was unsafe.
  • A nursing home failed to properly establish safe lifting procedures, and an employee dropped your loved one.
  • A delivery company hired a driver with a poor safety record, and the driver crashed into your loved one as they were crossing the street.
  • An improperly secured crane fell over on a job site and killed your loved one.
  • A truck jackknifed when an inexperienced driver suddenly slammed on the brakes.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?

In Georgia, certain family members are permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The law specifies who is allowed to file and the order in which claims can be made:

  • A surviving spouse is the first person who may file a claim.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, then surviving children are allowed to file a claim.
  • If there is no spouse and no surviving children, the surviving parents may file a claim.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, then the administrator of the will or estate may file a claim.

If a spouse and children survive the victim, the spouse is entitled to at least one-third of the proceeds of a wrongful death lawsuit. If there are one or two surviving children, the spouse and the children will each receive an equal share, but if there are more than two surviving children, then the spouse will receive one-third of the settlement, and the children will each receive equal shares of the remaining portion. Other relatives, such as siblings, cousins, or a grandparent, may not file a wrongful death claim in Georgia.

Your Columbus Wrongful Death Attorney Will File Wrongful Death Lawsuits Against All Negligent Parties

Your Columbus wrongful death lawyer will review the circumstances of your loved one’s death and advise you of your options. If there is enough evidence to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, your attorney will file a claim on your behalf. Anyone whose negligent actions contributed to your loved one’s death may be held liable for your loss.

In many situations, more than one party may bear responsibility for your loved one’s death. For example, if your loved one was killed by a truck rollover accident, the careless truck driver may have made an unsafe maneuver, the trucking company may be guilty of negligent hiring, the mechanic who worked on the truck may not have property serviced the brakes, the company that loaded the truck may not have balanced the cargo correctly, or perhaps a combination of events contributed to the accident.

At Butler Prather LLP, we rely on a team of highly trained expert witnesses to help determine the true cause of an accident. This team includes traffic engineers, mechanical engineers, and forensic specialists. When our investigation is complete, the experienced Columbus personal injury attorneys at Butler Prather LLP will file claims against all responsible parties, which may include:

  • Careless drivers
  • Employers
  • People who commit acts of violence
  • Business owners and supervisors
  • Third-party contractors
  • Homeowners who fail to remove hazards
  • Manufacturers of unsafe products
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Public and private officials responsible for road safety

Damage Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A wrongful death lawsuit will include damages for the tangible and intangible losses you have suffered. Damages may include the loss of love, companionship, guidance, and emotional support that was taken away from you. Available damages will also include direct economic losses, determined based on the victim’s age, occupation, education, and other factors. Tangible losses include:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of future income
  • Loss of household assistance
  • Loss of gifts and inheritances
  • Loss of pension and medical benefits

Was Someone Needlessly Taken Away from You?

For over 35 years, the personal injury lawyers at Butler Prather LLP have been fighting to get justice for people who have suffered the wrongful death of family members. Our Georgia firm has won nine verdicts that exceed $100 million. We’ve also won over 60 verdicts and settlements of over $10 million.

At Butler Prather LLP, we will treat you and your family with the respect and sensitivity these cases require. We’re always available for our clients; every case matters to us.

Call us at (706) 322-1990 to schedule your complimentary consultation today.

Posted in: Wrongful Death

I was in a complex premises liability case involving a multinational corporations. Mr. Butler & his associates were always three steps ahead of these defendants. When they say they are "exceptional trial lawyers," this is not just a slogan but it is a way of life.”
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