Wrongful Death Lawyer

One of our specialties is helping folks involved in fatal accidents. We have handled numerous wrongful death claims, received one of the largest wrongful death verdicts in the history of the state, and recovered millions more for fatal accidents in Atlanta. We have also defended companies involved in a fatal accident, working to resolve the case with compassion and respect for everyone involved. We are accomplished, accessible, and respected wrongful death attorneys. We represent honorable companies, and the genuinely injured.

Here are some things you should know about our wrongful death practice:

  • We know the rules. Georgia wrongful death cases are controlled by statutes. These rules control who has the right to bring a fatal accident claim. They also control who recovers the proceeds from the suit. They also address what types of damages can be recovered. You need an attorney who knows the wrongful death code forwards and backwards. That’s us.
  • We get results. In 2018, we obtained one of the largest wrongful death verdicts in the history of Georgia, over $27,000,000. We’ve recovered millions more for our wrongful death clients. If we are defending the case, we work to help you resolve the litigation in a way that respects everyone involved.
  • We work quicklyIf you have lost a loved one, it is tough to add the stress of litigation on top of the grieving process. That is why we dedicate ourselves to pushing the case towards the best and most efficient resolution possible. We don’t stir up fights. We work on solutions to improve your life and honor your loved one.
  • We work for you. We exist solely to provide honorable representation to those that need it most. Our prior clients will tell you that we lift you up when you need it most.

What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

When a person is killed by acts or omissions another person, a relative may have the right to recover for the loss of life in a wrongful death claim.  Similar to a personal injury lawsuit, in which the injured person makes a claim for the pain and suffering endured in an accident, in a wrongful death suit, the relative makes a claim for the injuries and death of the deceased person.

There are key differences, however, than a standard personal injury claim. Here are some example issues that are unique to wrongful death claims: (1) Who has the right to bring a wrongful death claim? (2) What damages are recoverable? (3) How much are wrongful death claims worth? These and other questions are answered below.

Who has the right to bring a wrongful death claim?

One of the most fundamental (and confusing) rules is who is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim in Georgia. It is easy to see how this could cause hardship, as certain family members may disagree about who should bring the claim.

The right to bring a wrongful death claim is governed by three statutes, O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2O.C.G.A. § 51-4-4; and O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5. These statutes establish the following order of priority:

  • A spouse as the first right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia;
  • If there is no surviving spouse, then the children have the next right to bring a claim for the fatal accident;
  • If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the parents of the deceased person may bring the claim for wrongful death; and,
  • If no one else can bring the claim, the administrator or executor may bring the claim.

Generally speaking, the executor of the estate will be determined by the decedent’s will. If there is no executor appointed by will, then the probate court may appoint an administrator which usually is the closest relative.

There are important exceptions to this rule. For example, a parent that totally abandoned their child may not bring a wrongful death claim. Also, if a parent has a child out of wedlock, there are additional steps the parent must take to bring the claim. There are other exceptions too, and an accomplished Atlanta wrongful death attorney can help you navigate these issues.

What damages are recoverable in a wrongful death claim?

The damages recoverable in a fatal accident in Georgia are determined by statute. There are three main types of damages.

The first type is the “full value of the life of the decedent.” In Georgia, the full value of the life of the decedent has two components. An economic part based generally on the person’s monetary contributions. And, the loss of enjoyment in the person’s life through relationships and experiences. The economic part is more straightforward. It includes a person’s lost wages and contributions around the home. For a stay at home wife or husband, their contributions to the household are recoverable monetarily. We have a pool of experts, including economists, that can calculate this amount for the jury. Their testimony can be quite powerful in showing how much funds.

The second part, loss of enjoyment of life, is harder to quantify. When representing the family, we focus on the person’s relationships, family, friends and community, using real life examples. It creates a powerful presentation and honors the life of the decedent as best as we can.

The second type of damages is pain and suffering. This is the pain and suffering of the person who has passed, as opposed to the suffering that surviving family members may experience. It specifically addresses the pain and suffering that the deceased person experienced before their death.

The third type of damages is the funeral and other expenses that the Estate incurred. This would include all the expenses necessary to honor the loved one with a ceremony.

Death accidents are among the hardest cases, emotionally, that we work on. They are also some of the most rewarding.

How much is a wrongful death lawsuit worth?

Whenever we deal with a case involving the death of someone, it is an unfortunate reality that the law only offers monetary compensation. Because of that, many of our questions deal with finances, “value,” and “worth” of a wrongful death claim. It is understandably troubling to folks to talk about a life in this manner. At the same time, in order to provide quality advice to our clients, we are required to discuss the potential results in a trial, which are in monetary terms. This is true on both the plaintiff and defense side, as monetary compensation will be what ultimately resolves the case.

A wrongful death settlement can vary widely in results. A personal injury claim is like a three-legged stool. There must be three legs (liability; causation; and damages) for the claim to stand. In a wrongful death claim, there is clear damages. But, sometimes, there is no liability or causation.

Georgia law is clear that simply because a mere accident, without more, is not sufficient to bring a claim. There must be something that the defendant did that violated an applicable standard of care. For example, an Atlanta truck accident attorney, would review whether or not the truck violated a uniform rule of the road. If a rule of the road was not violated and, instead, the decedent caused the accident, then there would not be a recovery in a wrongful death case.

If there is liability, there must also be causation. In the case of a fatal accident, this means that the accident in question actually caused the death. Preexisting, degenerative, and congenital conditions are not typically recoverable. In the case of wrongful death, typically the causation element may be straightforward because the death occurred in close proximity with the accident.

Often there are arguments on both sides of a case, which effect the case’s “value” and resulting settlement. A fatal accident claim can be worth millions of dollars. The verdict could also be nothing depending on the facts and circumstances.

FAQ

Is there a time limit on a Wrongful Death Lawsuits? In general, the time to file a lawsuit for a fatal accident in Georgia is 2 years from the date of the accident. This sounds like a long time, but there are a lot of steps that come before filing suit. It is important to talk with an experienced wrongful death attorney quickly after a fatal accident.

How much will it cost to hire a wrongful death attorney? An initial case consultation is always free at our firm. For victims of wrongful death, we are hired on a contingency fee. This means that there is no fee, unless we recover something for you in the case. At that point, an agreed-upon percentage goes to the firm. For defendants, the cost is an hourly rate negotiated at the time of the representation.

When should you hire an attorney for a fatal accident? A wrongful death attorney should be consulted immediately following an accident. There is often evidence that needs to be preserved and may be lost if an attorney does not take steps immediately to preserve it. Once we are contacted, we work to help lighten the burden of folks involved in a fatal accident.

What type of accidents can result in a wrongful death claim? The most common accidents that result in a wrongful death claim in Georgia are tractor trailer accidents, car accidents, drunk driving accidents, medical malpractice, and shootings at apartment complexes, convenience stores, or other commercial properties.

What areas do we serve?

We work throughout Georgia. We have experience litigating in virtually all of the major cities and counties in Georgia. This includes Atlanta, Gainesville, Columbus, Savannah, Albany, Macon, Decatur, Augusta, Athens, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and many more. If you have a wrongful death suit anywhere in Georgia, we are prepared and ready to help you.

Case Results

Here are some example case results:

  • Our defense cases have all been resolved for at or within our valuation.
  • We have recovered millions of dollars for our injured clients. This includes a $27 million verdict for wrongful death in Fulton County. It also includes a $2,250,000 wrongful death verdict from an accident in Atlanta. We have other case results too.

Client Reviews

Reading client reviews can give you a good idea what it means to be apart of the Carr & Weatherby family.

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