Losing someone close to you in a fatal car accident is tragic and incredibly difficult. But, even as you grieve, you have to handle a complex insurance claims process and possible legal action. A Gainesville fatal car accident lawyer in Georgia can ease your burden in this trying time.
These lawyers can handle the claims process including negotiating with the insurance company, collecting evidence, and calculating damages. If necessary, you can move ahead and file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party at fault.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Georgia statutes, wrongful death is when a human being dies as the result of a crime, negligence, recklessness, defective manufacturing, medical malpractice, or any other act or omission.
Fatal car accidents are usually the result of recklessness or carelessness. That means the party at fault failed to exercise reasonable care, thereby causing a wrongful death. In this case, the people closest to the victim can file a wrongful death claim against the other party.
Fatal car accidents don’t automatically result in lawsuits. There is a claims process that you have to follow, after which you can decide to pursue further compensation.
The Claims Process After a Fatal Car Accident
After a fatal car accident in Gainesville, the at-fault party’s insurance company should pay for the costs and compensation resulting from the wrongful death. If they don’t have valid insurance, the party at fault is held personally responsible.
However, insurance companies rarely make the claims process easy. Here is a typical claims process after a car accident that results in death.
- Notify the insurance company or companies involved. This notice of claim is sent to the insurers of both the victim and the party at fault.
- Collect evidence and documentation. In most cases, the at-fault victim or their insurer will contest fault to minimize the damages or throw out the claim.
- Calculate the amount of compensation you want to receive. You will then send a demand letter to the appropriate party with this amount.
- The party at fault or their insurer will review your demand and send a settlement offer based on how much they feel you are entitled to receive.
- You and your Gainesville fatal car accident lawyer consider the settlement offer. You can accept it or refuse, in which you initiate a negotiation process.
When to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Fatal Car Accident
If the at-fault party or their insurer refuses to settle or makes a lowball offer, your fatal car accident attorney in Gainesville can advise on whether you should go ahead and file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Insurance companies are ruthless when it comes to paying out claims. They will send insultingly low settlement offers, try to entrap you by asking questions, and even twist evidence to make it seem as if the victim was at fault.
Filing a lawsuit allows you as the deceased’s survivors to recover damages by following the court process. This can lead to a settlement or go to trial depending on whether the parties involved agree.
Who Should File a Wrongful Death Claim After an Accident?
In Georgia, the closest surviving relatives of the victim are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These are, in order of eligibility:
- The deceased’s spouse.
- If there is no surviving spouse, the deceased’s children.
- If there is no surviving spouse or child, the deceased’s parent or parents.
- In the absence of all these, the administrator or executor of the deceased’s estate can file the claim.
Any damages paid out go directly to the deceased’s estate for the benefit of their surviving relatives.
Compensation for Wrongful Death After a Fatal Car Accident
In a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the court orders the party at fault or their insurer to pay “damages” to the victim’s estate. Georgia law allows for two kinds of damages: “full value of the life of the decedent” and financial losses related to the death.
Full Value of the Decedent’s Life
While there is no amount of money that can compensate for your lost loved one’s life, this type of damage is meant to help recover the wages, benefits, and services that the deceased might reasonably have earned had they lived.
It also accounts for the loss of companionship, care, counsel, and advice that the deceased would have given the surviving family.
The second category refers to the direct losses from the victim’s estate related to their death. That includes medical bills, funeral costs, and all expenses related to their suffering, illness, and death.
In both these cases, there are ways for lawyers and insurance agents to calculate specific amounts for compensation. The figures are then added up to give you the settlement amount.
How Long do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Unfortunately, the clock starts ticking from the moment your loved one dies after a fatal car accident. Georgia’s statute of limitations says that you have to file your claim/lawsuit within two years of the deceased’s death.
Georgia’s Comparative Negligence Clause: Determining Fault
There’s one more important thing you should know when filing for wrongful death claims in Gainesville. Our state abides by a comparative negligence clause, which means that both parties involved can be partially responsible for the accident.
States follow different rules to calculate how much compensation goes to each party depending on their percentage of fault. In Georgia, you can recover damages from any party who was more at fault than the victim was.
Since fault is highly subjective, the amount of compensation you get will ultimately depend on your attorney’s negotiation skills. The same rules apply to personal injury lawsuits filed in Georgia.
How a Fatal Car Accident Lawyer in Gainesville, GA, Can Help
It’s unfortunate that you have to handle this complex claims process while still dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. However, you don’t have to deal with it alone because a Gainesville fatal car accident attorney is here to hold your hand through it all.
From filing the claim, handling the documentation, and representing you in court during the lawsuit, our compassionate attorneys will help to smooth out the process for you.
More importantly, we can handle all the negotiations with the insurance companies to get you the highest dollar amounts possible depending on your circumstances.
Hire a Fatal Car Accident Lawyer in Gainesville, GA, Today
After a fatal car accident in Gainesville, it is critical to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to start collecting evidence and building your claim. Contact us now for free and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.