A wrongful death lawsuit can help you recoup some of the financial burdens that you might be dealing with as a result of losing a loved one. Medical bills and lost wages can add up to quite a bit, not to mention the inevitable funeral bills. However, these lawsuits aren't conducted the same way in every state since each state has different laws. To help you get a better idea of whether a lawsuit is right for your specific situation, here are some of the key laws to know when it comes to wrongful deaths in Georgia:
Who can and cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In general, you need to either be a personal representative of the decedent's estate or a member of the decedent's immediate family if you want to file. This means parents, children, and spouses can all file with little to no trouble.
Georgia actually has some very specific laws on this matter that ensure that the spouse is guaranteed to get part of the payout: one third. The spouse can be awarded more than one third of the total recovered damages, but they cannot be awarded less.
How much time do you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
The statute of limitations is another crucial factor to keep in mind, since failing to abide by the statute of limitations can leave your lawsuit without a chance of winning. As is the case in most states, wrongful deaths are rolled into the general personal injury statute of limitations, which happens to be 2 years in Georgia.
How does comparative negligence factor into wrongful death lawsuits?
In many lawsuits, comparative negligence plays an important role. The general idea of comparative negligence is that your winnings can be reduced if the court finds that you were somehow partly to blame for the death or injury that forms the basis of your lawsuit. In the case of wrongful deaths, this would mean that if the deceased was partially responsible for their own death, then the amount of money that you are awarded may be reduced.
Georgia says that your winnings will be reduced proportionally to the level of responsibility, except when that level of responsibility rises above 49%. In other words, if the deceased bore half or more of the responsibility for their own death, then you might not be awarded any money at all.
Find a personal injury lawyer through a firm like Whiting, Hagg, Hagg, Dorsey & Hagg to learn more about your legal options in Georgia.