If you have recently lost a loved one due to someone else’s intentional or accidental conduct, you may have the opportunity to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Here, you can work to hold the at-fault party accountable through the civil court process.
Although the situation may also lead to criminal charges, a civil wrongful death claim is your opportunity to seek civil liability against them. However, if you hope for your wrongful death claim to be successful, you must be sure to get it filed before the Georgia wrongful death statute of limitations expires.
When Is a Death “Wrongful”?
According to Ga. Code §51-4-1, anytime an individual is responsible for causing the death of another, they may be held accountable via a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death can occur through an accident, due to malicious intent, and because of negligence. Wrongful death cases can also stem from instances of medical malpractice.
Essentially, if one person passes away due to the actions of another, that liable party can be ordered to compensate the surviving family members for their damages and suffering. Many types of accidents and incidents can result in wrongful death, some of which include:
- Car accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Commercial truck accidents
- Slip and falls
- Premises liabilities
- Work accidents
- Fatal injuries caused by defective products
- Sexual abuse
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Birth injuries
The Statute of Limitations for Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
Under Ga. Code §9-3-33, your wrongful death lawsuit needs to be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. It is important to make sure your wrongful death claim is filed before this critical deadline. Failure to do so could have harsh consequences for your case.
When Can Wrongful Death Claims Be Tolled?
It should be noted that wrongful death claims, in specific circumstances, could be tolled. “Tolled” refers to the statute of limitations being temporarily stalled in your case.
For example, according to Ga. Code §9-3-99, if your loved one’s passing was the result of criminal activity, and criminal charges are filed in relation to your wrongful death lawsuit, the statute of limitations for your case can be tolled until the criminal case has been resolved. However, this has a maximum stay of six years. From there, the traditional two-year statute of limitations will begin from the date the criminal case has been completed.
Additionally, according to Ga. Code §9-3-92, if your loved one’s estate has not been through probate, the statute of limitations can be tolled for a maximum of five years. If you are unsure whether the statute of limitations has been tolled in your case, it is imperative to discuss your concerns with your wrongful death lawyer. This way, you avoid issues with the statute of limitations in the future.
What Happens if Your Wrongful Death Claim Is Not Filed in Time?
In the event that your wrongful death lawsuit is not filed before the statute of limitations runs out. Unfortunately, this will have catastrophic consequences in your case. In almost all personal injury and wrongful death claims, if the lawsuit is not filed before the statute of limitation runs out, you will no longer have the right to pursue your case within the Georgia civil court system.
This means you will have lost your chance to recover the damages that you May have otherwise been entitled to. Even if you attempted to file your wrongful death claim after the statute of limitations has expired, it would not be successful. The judge would be required to grant the motion filed by the defendant to dismiss your case.
It does not matter how empathetic the court system is to you and your family. If your claim is not filed before the statute of limitations runs out, you need to consider other options for financial recovery and justice.
How Long Does the Wrongful Death Claims Process Take?
It is difficult to say how long it takes a wrongful death claims process to resolve. There are many factors that can influence the outcome of your case. For example, if your attorney needs to conduct a thorough investigation to determine liability, the amount of time it takes to complete your case could be longer.
Additionally, the investigation into liability could be tedious if your attorney needs to identify and interview witnesses, hire forensic experts and other professionals to testify in your case, or work with accident reconstructionists to figure out who is at fault for your loved one’s death. If you need to negotiate with the insurance company or bring your case to court, it could take longer for your wrongful death claim to be finalized.
Insurance companies may not be willing to settle your claim fairly. Even if they are, your insurance settlement may not be enough to cover your family’s damages in full.
There are many factors impacting the amount of time it will take to obtain the wrongful death damages your family is entitled to. For this reason, it is important to discuss your concerns with your attorney if you hope to get a better idea as to how long it will take to work through the wrongful death claims process in your case.
How a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help You
A wrongful death attorney in Georgia can help you navigate the claims process. When you are still mourning your loss, dealing with an insurance company and building a case against the person responsible for your loved one’s death can be overwhelming.
Let our firm handle all of the legalities on your behalf. Focus on your family and your grief while we fight for justice for your loved one.
Get Help from a Wrongful Death Attorney in Georgia Today
If you have questions about when the statute of limitations will expire in your wrongful death claim, or if you are ready to get started on your case but do not know where to turn for help, reach out to a Georgia wrongful death attorney for help.
Schedule your free case evaluation as soon as today. You can fill out our online contact form or call us for more information about the wrongful death claims process in Georgia.