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Statesboro Wrongful Death Lawyer

Statesboro Wrongful Death Lawyer

Statesboro Wrongful Death Attorney

Losing a loved one is a devastating experience under any circumstances, and when that loss is caused by the negligence or misconduct of some other party, the pain and other negative feelings can feel insurmountable.

At Merritt & Merritt, we stand by the hurting families and individuals of Statesboro and the rest of Georgia, helping them through the complex and emotionally raw world of pursuing compensation for a wrongful death claim. Our successful and highly reputable wrongful death and medical malpractice teams understand what constitutes wrongful death under Georgia law, as well as the nuances of the local Statesboro court system. We are dedicated to delivering results in the form of justice for your loved one and compensation for the ones left behind.

How Much Can You Get from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?

The amount of compensation an individual or family might receive in a settlement or judgment pursuant to a Georgia wrongful death suit can vary quite a bit from case to case. Some of the factors that will impact the calculation of a settlement amount might include:

  • The age and health factors of the deceased
  • The likely future earnings potential of the deceased
  • The particular circumstances of the death
  • Any criminal factors involved
  • The extent of negligence or wrongdoing involved in the death
  • The quality of your legal representation and their ability to argue effectively for the maximum possible payout

Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act establishes the state’s “Full Value of Life” principle. This means that a claim can be made for the full value of the life of the decedent (deceased party), but what exactly that means in practical terms and what exactly can be included when making a wrongful death claim can be confusing.

Typically, this “full value of life” is calculated as the sum of two components:

  1. Tangible Value of Life: Lost wages and benefits, medical expenses incurred leading up to the death, and funerary costs can all be included as direct economic damages.
  2. Intangible Value of Life: These elements relate to the more abstract aspects of an individual life’s value, such as companionship and emotional support.

As you can see, these components are somewhat subjective, especially the intangible elements. Testimony from family and other close confidants can play a key role, as can things like photographs, videos, and correspondence. The subjective nature of these calculations can also leave room for a skilled attorney to argue in favor of a larger payout on your behalf. While there is obviously no way to put a price tag on the loss of your loved one, we can fight tirelessly in court and at the negotiation table until you have been awarded the maximum possible compensation package. You are entitled to financial support to help you rebuild after this tragic loss. Merritt & Merritt can help you attain it.

In cases of egregious negligence, intentional malfeasance, or outright criminality, punitive damages may also be handed down by the court. It’s important to understand that these punitive judgments are separate from your claim. Punitive damages pursuant to wrongful death cases are intended to punish the wrongdoer rather than compensate the victim’s family.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death Lawsuits

A wrongful death lawsuit, broadly speaking, seeks to hold negligent or malignant parties responsible for their actions that led to the untimely death of an individual. Sometimes, the loved ones left behind are unsure whether they qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a loved one. There is a specific hierarchy for who exactly can file a claim (more on that later), but in terms of what sort of deaths can result in successful lawsuits, there is a fairly broad range.

Some real-world examples of tragedies that might lead to viable wrongful death claims include:

  • Vehicular Accidents – Motorists, whether they are the drivers of passenger cars, motorcyclists, or licensed professional truckers, are capable of causing fatal accidents due to negligence, reckless driving, intoxication, or failure to obey traffic laws.
  • Medical Malpractice – Wrongful death cases routinely involve medical malpractice claims. A healthcare provider’s negligent failure to diagnose a treatable illness, avoidable surgical errors, incorrect medication dosing, or negligence during childbirth procedures are some scenarios that can lead to tragic and preventable fatalities in a healthcare setting.
  • Workplace Accidents – When it comes to industrial operations, construction sites, and certain types of utilities and maintenance jobs, a routine day at work can suddenly become fatal due to a failure of safety standards, malfunctions in equipment, or other forms of employer negligence. Even relatively “safe” jobs in other industries can unfortunately be subject to fatal incidents when those higher up in the chain of authority fail to prioritize the well-being and safety of their workforce.
  • Defective Products – Legally actionable fatalities can also occur when someone uses a product that unexpectedly malfunctions. Examples might include airbags that fail to deploy, poorly installed medical devices, contaminated foods or supplements, or catastrophic explosions of large household appliances.
  • Premises Liability – The concept of premises liability as applied to wrongful death suits refers to deaths that occur due to unsafe property conditions, such as inadequate maintenance of safety rails, building code violations, or inadequate signage warning visitors of potential safety hazards.
  • Criminal Activities – Acts of violence can also lead to wrongful death claims, such as when a loved one falls victim to an armed robbery gone wrong, a drive-by shooting, or some other criminal act that culminates in murder. It’s important to understand that even if the perpetrator is convicted in criminal court of murder, manslaughter, or some other charge, you may still be able to bring a separate wrongful death claim to seek damages in civil court.
  • Toxic Exposure – Fatalities caused by short- or long-term exposure to deadly chemicals or substances are at the root of some wrongful death cases. Examples include exposure to asbestos at a workplace without proper safety equipment or specialized training or accidental contact with toxic waste from industrial processes due to a company’s failure to adhere to safety standards and environmental regulations.

How Long Do You Have to Sue for Wrongful Death in Georgia?

According to section 9-3-33 of the State of Georgia Operational Code, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in the state is typically two years from the date of the death in question.

While the two-year window will apply to most wrongful death cases, there are some exceptions and nuances to be considered:

  • While all individual citizens are equals in a court of law, government entities (e.g., law enforcement) are another matter and are sometimes protected by special rules. If you intend to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a state, federal, or local government agency or agent, the case may be subject to special rules, which is to say you may have to provide notice of your claim within a shorter time frame.
  • If there is already an ongoing criminal case related to the death, a court can effectively pause the statute of limitations on further civil actions (such as your wrongful death suit) until the criminal proceedings are resolved.
  • In cases of medical malpractice, the timeline can be hard to pin down, especially if the negligence was not immediately discovered or the effects of ongoing medical abuse manifested slowly over time.
  • Cases that involve insurance claims and working with insurance agents will not be subject to a different statute of limitations in civil court, but they can be subject to their own timelines and filing windows, set by way of relevant regulations and the specific language in your insurance policy.

It’s vital to consult with a qualified wrongful death attorney at your earliest possible convenience to ensure your claim is filed properly and in accordance with all deadlines. The team at Merritt & Merritt is ready to help you begin the process through a compassionate, no-pressure consultation with a member of our helpful and knowledgeable wrongful death team.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Georgia?

Georgia law provides a rigid hierarchy that governs which individuals are legally able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit to court:

1. Spouse – The decedent’s surviving spouse holds the primary right when it comes to filing the wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased leaves behind minor children, however, the law can compel the spouse to act in their interests—this creates legal safeguards against a proverbial “wicked stepmother” making off with the family wealth.
2. Children – If there is no surviving spouse, the decedent’s lawful children can file the wrongful death lawsuit. If the children in question are minors, their guardians or the appropriate state-approved agents may be able to help pursue legal action on their behalf.
3. Parents – If there are no children or surviving spouse, but the decedent has one more living parent, that parent then has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

If none of the above relatives exist, it may still be possible, in certain circumstances, for a lawfully appointed personal representative (e.g., a family attorney named in a will) to pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s estate. Consult with the attorneys at Merritt & Merritt to explore whether this option or other forward-thinking solutions to legal roadblocks in your wrongful death claim might be possible in your case.

What Are the Damages for Wrongful Death in Georgia?

As we touched on earlier, Georgia law aims to compensate individuals and families for the “full value of life” in a wrongful death case, which means both tangible economic factors and intangible, abstract aspects of the decedent’s value as a family member and companion.

With a wide range of tangible and intangible elements covered by Georgia law, the factors that will go into the final settlement or judgment amount might include:

  • Lost wages and earning potential
  • Lost benefits
  • Medical expenses related to the fatal incident (especially relevant in cases of medical malpractice)
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of care/family duties
  • Pain and suffering

In cases where the act that constitutes wrongful death is particularly egregious, punitive damages can also come into play, but it’s crucial to understand that these are financial penalties imposed by the court to deter wrongdoing and are separate from any judgment intended to compensate the victim’s loved one.

Another key thing to consider is that your eventual settlement or judgment will also very likely be affected by the quality of your legal team and their ability to make compelling arguments, both at the negotiating table and in court, if need be. For maximum compensation on the most expeditious timeline possible, the successful wrongful death and medical malpractice team at Merritt & Merritt offers fully custom legal strategies to aggressively assert your rights and pursue the compensation your family needs to rebuild and begin the healing process.

Merritt & Merritt – Your Trusted Statesboro, GA, Resource for Wrongful Death Claims and Medical Malpractice Litigation

The sudden loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct—be it an intoxicated motorist or a negligent medical care provider—is a heart-wrenching and life-altering experience. It is natural to be filled with many powerful and negative emotions, and processing these can make it difficult to do the mentally challenging, detail-oriented work of preparing and filing a wrongful death lawsuit. We’re here to take that weight off your shoulders with comprehensive and powerful legal solutions.

At Merritt & Merritt, we’re not just another law firm. Our business model involves making your well-being and comfort a priority as we work tirelessly to ensure you and your family receive the compensation you deserve. Our deep understanding of Georgia’s complicated legal landscape, combined with our dedication to justice and community empowerment, makes us an ideal partner, even in your darkest and most trying times.

We know that a successful wrongful death claim won’t replace what your family has lost, but it can offer your family all-important financial stability in the aftermath of devastation and ensure accountability from those who have wronged you. With legal guidance from Merritt & Merritt that is both empathetic and effective, you can trust that your case is in the most reliable hands. We can shoulder the burden of the legal process while you focus on grieving, healing, and remembering your loved one. Contact our team today.