Macon Wrongful Death Lawyer
With plenty of culture, history, and a thriving musical scene, Macon draws crowds to its festivals each year, and its low cost of living makes it an affordable city. Unfortunately, despite all the benefits of living in or visiting Macon, there are also real dangers. In addition to having a higher crime rate than most nearby cities, Macon also has many aged properties and crowded roadways that lead to accidents and fatalities.
When a person dies due to someone else’s negligence—whether that negligence occurred behind the wheel, as a result of a hazardous property feature, or any other type of carelessness or recklessness—their loved ones are often left in a major bind. In addition to the unbearable psychological impact of an unexpected death, the decedent’s family can lose their primary breadwinner and face unpaid expenses.
When this happens, the Georgia wrongful death claims process allows these family members the opportunity to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their loss. An experienced Macon wrongful death lawyer from Buckhead Law Saxton Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can provide guidance and services to assist them with their claim.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a legal term that refers to a death resulting from a crime, negligence, or defectively manufactured products.
Here is a look at some types of incidents and accidents that can result in wrongful death in Macon.
- Motor vehicle accidents: According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, more than 30 people die in traffic accidents in the Macon area each year. These accidents can involve any roadway user, including the occupants of passenger vehicles, rideshares, buses, taxis, and commercial trucks, as well as motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The Georgia Department of Public Health notes that motor vehicle accidents are the state’s leading cause of injury deaths.
- Premises liability accidents: Faulty electrical systems, falls, swimming pool accidents, failure to protect guests from criminal actions, and other property hazards can kill people.
- Defective products: Faulty vehicle parts, dangerous medications or medical devices, children’s toys, tainted food, or malfunctioning appliances.
- Intentional acts: Murder, domestic violence, or child abuse.
Seeking Compensation After a Macon Wrongful Death Occurs
When someone has died due to another’s carelessness, recklessness, or intention, the decedent’s family members can seek compensation through Georgia’s wrongful death claims process. This process generally begins with filing a claim against a relevant insurance policy held by the at-fault party.
Examples of liability insurance policies that apply in these claims might include an auto liability insurance policy if the death resulted from a car accident or a homeowner’s or property liability policy for premises liability matters.
When the at-fault party’s insurance provider receives the claim, they will assign a claims adjuster to evaluate it and determine whether the company’s insured was liable and—if so—how much compensation they owe the claimant. The claims adjuster must respond to the claim and can do so by either accepting the claim as submitted, denying the claim and providing a reason in writing, or offering to settle the claim for less than its stated value.
If the insurance provider fails to compensate the claim, it can be filed as a personal injury lawsuit in Macon. If the parties don’t settle by the trial date, a judge or jury decides about liability and compensation owed to the claimant.
Who Can File a Macon Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims in Georgia can usually only be filed by close family members. If the decedent was married, their spouse can file the claim. If the decedent was not married but had children, their adult children can also file the claim. If the decedent had neither a spouse nor children, their parent can file the claim. If the decedent did not have a surviving spouse, children, or parents, then an executor (administrator) of their estate can file a claim on behalf of the deceased’s next of kin, such as a sibling.
How Long Does the Claimant Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
All states place time limits on a claimant’s right to seek compensation through a lawsuit. This period is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for most wrongful death claims is two years from the date of death.
However, certain circumstances extend the time limit, such as:
- The wrongful death resulted from a crime, and the at-fault party is undergoing criminal proceedings related to that crime. In these cases, the civil claim statute of limitations can extend until the criminal process finishes. In these cases, the claimant can have up to six years to file their lawsuit in court.
- The decedent’s estate has not yet gone through probate. In these cases, the claimant has up to five years to file a claim.
Your attorney will advise you if there is an extension to the time you have to file a lawsuit. The case does not have to resolve by the time the statute of limitations expires but must be filed by that time. However, failing to file the lawsuit within Georgia’s wrongful death statute of limitations will generally result in losing the right to use the court process when seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injury.
While most wrongful death claims settle out of court, you may need to file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Most adjusters will not consider offering a settlement unless you can go to court as a legal consequence for failing to compensate claims.
What Types of Compensation Can Victims Seek Through a Macon Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claimants in Macon can seek compensation for the monetary expenses incurred due to the loss, known as economic damages. These include expenses related to the decedent’s final medical treatments and the costs associated with funeral services and burial or cremation. The claimant can also seek compensation for the loss of wages and benefits the decedent would have likely earned throughout their working years if they had lived, as well as the loss of household services they provided for their family.
Claimants can also seek compensation for the psychological impacts of the loss, known as non-economic damages. These damages include compensation for the loss of care, counsel, companionship, and advice that the decedent provided to their loved ones.
Punitive damages (compensation ordered as a financial consequence for the defendant’s recklessness instead of payment for monetary or emotional costs suffered by the claimant) are not available in Georgia wrongful death claims.
However, victims can pursue punitive damages under a separate estate claim pertaining to the decedent’s pre-death injuries and pain and suffering if the claimant can prove that particularly egregious behavior caused the incident or accident that led to death.
How Can a Macon Wrongful Death Attorney Help You With Your Wrongful Death Claim?
Losing a loved one is one of the most devastating and overwhelming experiences an individual or family can face. Often, family members are so consumed by grief and the very real need to move forward financially that they cannot begin to think about figuring out the legal process to obtain the compensation they need.
A wrongful death attorney can allow the claimant to focus on getting to an emotionally healthier place while having the peace of mind that a legal team is focused on assisting them in getting to a financially healthier place.
Affording a Macon Wrongful Death Lawyer
Often, when someone who has lost a family member due to a wrongful death decides not to hire an attorney to help them with their claim, it isn’t that they don’t want the help, but rather they don’t think they can afford one. However, wrongful death attorneys provide two special services designed to ensure access to their knowledge and guidance for anyone who needs it, regardless of financial status.
The first service is the free case evaluation. This meeting allows a loved one to communicate with an attorney about their situation. The attorney can talk about whether they can file a wrongful death claim, explain the process in greater detail, and answer the prospective claimant’s legal questions about the process. They can also tell the prospective claimant about the services they and their legal team can provide.
If the claimant decides to hire the attorney to work with them on the claim, they will sign a contingent fee agreement. The contingent fee billing method allows personal injury and wrongful death claimants to wait to pay their legal team until they receive compensation through a settlement or a court award. The contingent fee agreement defines the services to be provided and designates a percentage of the compensation received as payment for those services. After the claim, the attorney receives the settlement or award, deducts their agreed-upon percentage, and turns the rest over to the claimant.
The Types of Services a Lawyer Provides for a Wrongful Death Claim
In addition to a free case evaluation and a contingent fee billing method, there are several important services that a Macon wrongful death attorney can provide for their client.
These services include:
- Determining who was liable for the incident or accident that caused the wrongful death. This party can be an individual, entity, or even multiple parties. While determining the source of liability, the attorney will also determine the relevant liability insurance policies that can provide compensation on the claim.
- Establishing the claim’s value based on the circumstances that led to the wrongful death, the availability of insurance, and the actual expenses incurred.
- Communicating with the at-fault party’s insurance provider to negotiate a fair settlement.
- Gathering the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove the claim in court.
- Managing the timeline of the claim to protect the claimant’s right to use the court process when seeking compensation for their loss by ensuring a lawsuit is filed before the statute of limitations expires.
- Litigation services, including the presentation of evidence, the examination of witnesses, attendance at all hearings, and responses to filings.
- Assistance collecting the proceeds of a negotiated settlement or court award.
- Continued representation if the opposing party appeals after a court decision is rendered.
If You’ve Lost a Loved One, We Can Help
The Buckhead Law Saxton Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. legal team understands that losing a loved one is an emotionally and financially overwhelming circumstance. We strive to earn our clients’ trust, build a relationship with them, and provide the individualized attention they need and deserve. We have been helping those injured and the families of lost loved ones in the region for more than 40 years. We possess a deep knowledge of Georgia’s wrongful death laws and a strong commitment to helping our clients move forward after life has given them a devastating blow.
Buckhead Law Saxton Injury & Accident Lawyers, P.C. – Macon Office
461 3rd St ste 6,
Macon, GA 31201
Get Aggressive Legal Help Today!
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Atlanta, you need to take action now. To schedule your free case evaluation, please contact an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer at Buckhead Law Saxton Injury & Accident Lawyers, P.C. today by calling 404-890-5631.