An accident taking the life of a family member can be an overwhelming experience in every possible way, and often one that causes lasting emotional and financial damage. While there is no way a civil damage award or settlement could ever replace the lost life of a loved one, it could help address the short-term and long-term monetary impacts this kind of tragedy often has.
If you want to explore your options for pursuing a wrongful death claim, you should strongly consider seeking help from a Macon wrongful death lawyer. You do not have to—and should not—go through this kind of endeavor alone, and a compassionate personal injury attorney could stand by your side every step of the way while working tirelessly to pursue a beneficial case outcome.
Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death lawsuits are a unique form of personal injury lawsuit, as they are one of the few situations in which someone not directly involved in an accident can file suit for damages that accident caused. In light of this, though, there are numerous restrictions on wrongful death litigation that do not apply to other personal injury claims.
For example, under Official Code of Georgia §51-4-2, only a decedent’s surviving spouse—or if there is no surviving spouse, the decedent’s surviving child(ren)—has grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit under normal circumstances. If someone dies without any surviving spouse or children, their parents may have standing to file suit under O.C.G.A. §19-7-1, or the representative for the decedent’s estate may have grounds to file under O.C.G.A. §51-4-5 and recover damages on the estate’s behalf.
Furthermore, there are some potential exceptions to the standard two-year filing deadline for personal injury cases set by O.C.G.A. §9-3-33, which a Macon wrongful death attorney could explain in further detail if applicable to a particular case. First, O.C.G.A. §9-3-92 allows the filing deadline to be tolled for up to five years if the decedent’s estate has yet to go through probate. Second, O.C.G.A. §9-3-99 allows for up to a six-year delay in the start of the wrongful death filing period while a criminal case related to the death in question is still pending.
What Damages May Be Recoverable?
Another unique element of wrongful death cases that is important for plaintiffs to understand is that the purpose of such a case is not to recover for damages that a deceased person directly experienced. Recovery for losses like funeral expenses, the decedent’s medical expenses, and pain and suffering the decedent endured prior to their death may be possible through a separate survival action, which a wrongful death attorney in Macon could also help with as needed.
Instead, wrongful death claims are meant to seek recovery on behalf of a decedent’s surviving family members for the full value of the life of the decedent, as per O.C.G.A. §51-4-2. The calculated value of someone’s life may factor in both tangible and intangible, meaning it may be possible to recover for lost financial support and benefits that the decedent would have provided their family in the future, as well as for loss of companionship, loss of care, and loss of consortium.
Seek Guidance from a Macon Wrongful Death Attorney
Words of comfort and sympathy can only do so much after a loved one’s death, and the same can be said for civil damages recovered through a wrongful death claim. However, civil recovery can still be a crucial consideration if you lost a spouse, parent, or child to a wrongful act, as it may be key to preserving your future financial security.
A qualified Macon wrongful death lawyer could walk you through all your legal options during a private consultation and help you pursue the best course of action for your unique situation. Call today to learn more