Voted Best Personal Injury Law Firm By Georgia Lawyers
Macon Wrongful Death Attorney
Matt Wetherington with Wetherington Law Firm,P.C. is the hardest working attorney I have ever worked with. He went above and beyond our expectations. Calls and emails are returned promptly and by Mr. Wetherington himself.
5 Stars is nowhere near enough to rate how awesome Matt and his colleagues were. They took my case even when I didn’t think there was anything we could do. I was in a bad situation at the time and Matt, Robert, and Sarah were there for me every step of the way.
I’m so grateful to Ben Levy and everything he did for me. He was truly dedicated to helping my case. Throughout the process, Ben was very thoughtful, responsive, organized, and made sure I was fully informed along the way.
Free Injury Lawyer Consultation
Dedicated and Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney, Macon, Georgia
Wrongful death cases in Macon arise when someone dies due to another party’s negligence or intentional act. These tragic incidents can stem from various situations like car accidents, medical malpractice, or workplace hazards. Georgia law, particularly O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2, the deceased’s family or estate can pursue a wrongful death claim. This law aims to compensate for the full value of the life of the deceased, covering both tangible and intangible losses, such as lost wages and companionship.
In these claims, the victim’s family must prove that the death resulted from the defendant’s negligent or intentional actions. As outlined in O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1, the eligible parties to bring a wrongful death claim include the spouse, children, or, in some cases, the parents of the deceased. Compensation can cover medical expenses incurred before death, funeral costs, and the financial and emotional impact on the family. Navigating these claims requires a deep understanding of Georgia’s wrongful death statutes and the ability to quantify the loss effectively.
At Wetherington Law Firm, our Macon Wrongful Death Attorneys are dedicated to helping families navigate the complex and emotional process of a wrongful death claim. We understand the profound impact of losing a loved one and are committed to securing the compensation that truly reflects the value of their life. Our experienced team will handle the legal intricacies, allowing you to focus on healing. If you’ve faced such a loss, let us provide the compassionate and skilled legal support you need during this difficult time. Contact us today!
Defining a Wrongful Death
Georgia Code § 51-4-1 identifies a wrongful death as one caused by crime, negligence, or defective property. This law encompasses both intentional criminal acts, like homicide, but also accidents caused by negligence.
We have brought wrongful death claims for deaths caused by:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Dog attacks
- Product liability
- Medical malpractice
We have used a variety of evidence to show negligence or fault. For example, if your loved one was killed in a trucking accident, we might visit the scene of the crash. Eyewitnesses can testify as to what happened, and we might secure electronic records from the truck. Based on what we find, we might argue the trucker was negligent because he drove too fast or for too long.
Similarly, if a defective product caused the death, we can inspect it with the help of an expert. We will look for the defect which caused your loved one’s fatal injuries.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
This is a civil lawsuit filed in civil court for monetary damages. For that reason, the prosecutor does not file the lawsuit, even if your loved one died in an intentional attack.
Instead, a close family member will need to file the suit. Georgia law gives priority to the following:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving children or grandchildren if there is no spouse
- Surviving parents if there is no spouse or child/grandchild
- Estate administrator or executor, if none of the above survive
Under this scheme, if a spouse survives the deceased, only the spouse can file the lawsuit. If you have questions about filing, consult a Macon wrongful death attorney.
Calculating Damages for a Wrongful Death
Because this is a civil suit, a court will order the defendant to pay money damages if they are liable for your loved one’s death. The standard is proof by a preponderance of the evidence—meaning, that it is more likely than not that the defendant caused your loved one’s death. That’s a lower standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt (which is the criminal standard).
Damages compensate victims for their losses. In Georgia, you can seek damages for the “full value” of your loved one’s life, which might include:
- Lost wages and benefits
- Lost services the deceased performed
- Lost companionship, care, and counsel
A Macon wrongful death lawyer can help you calculate these losses. For example, lost wages and benefits are fairly easy to add up. We look at how much your loved one made at death, plus their age and education. We can then calculate a reasonable amount they likely would have made had they lived.
Lost services are similar. If your wife did all the cooking and cleaning, you need to hire someone to perform those services. We can use the market rate to calculate the value.
Loss of companionship and care, however, is different. No amount of money can ever replace the love of a spouse, parent, or child. Still, we use our experience to estimate how much you might receive. If your case goes to trial, a jury will use their common sense to assign a value.
You have a limited amount of time to file this lawsuit. Under Ga. Code § 9-3-33, you get two years from your loved one’s death to file. If your wife was killed immediately in a car accident on July 1, 2022, then you must file before July 1, 2024.
The clock is stopped (or “tolled”) in some situations:
- If your loved one’s estate hasn’t been probated yet, then the clock can be tolled for up to 5 years.
- If your loved one was killed in a crime, then the clock doesn’t start until the criminal case is completed. It can be tolled for up to 6 years.
What types of compensation are available in wrongful death cases?
In wrongful death cases, several types of compensation are available to the family or estate of the deceased. These compensations aim to cover various losses and damages resulting from the wrongful death:
- Economic Damages: This includes the lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned if they had lived. It can cover future earnings potential, considering the deceased’s age, career, and health before death.
- Medical and Funeral Expenses: Any medical costs incurred due to the incident leading to death, as well as funeral and burial expenses, can be claimed.
- Loss of Companionship and Support: Compensation can be sought for the loss of love, companionship, comfort, and care that the deceased provided to family members.
- Pain and Suffering of the Deceased: If the deceased endured pain and suffering before death, compensation might be available for this period of suffering.
- Punitive Damages: In cases where the wrongful act was particularly egregious or intentional, punitive damages might be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar future conduct.
Can I file a claim if the deceased person was partially at fault?
Yes, you can still file a wrongful death claim even if the deceased person was partially at fault for the incident that led to their death. In Georgia, the rule of modified comparative negligence applies, as stated in O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33. This means that as long as the deceased was less than 50% responsible for the accident, a claim can still be filed. However, the total amount of compensation available will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the deceased.
For instance, if the deceased was found to be 20% at fault, the total compensation awarded would be reduced by 20%. It’s important to understand that determining fault in such cases can be complex, and the proportion of fault will directly affect the compensation amount.
Contact Our Macon Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death cases are complicated. During this difficult time, you need a reliable, compassionate attorney in your corner to guide you through the claims process. Let us help. Macon personal injury lawyer Matt Wetherington at the Wetherington Law Firm can quickly analyze your case and begin gathering essential evidence if you contact us today.