In the prior post, we discussed some of the important aspects of wrongful death claims, namely who can bring a claim and what a wrongful death claim may be worth. In this post, we’ll continue that discussion with some other important aspects of wrongful death claims that you need to know if you have lost a loved one.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The law requires that lawsuits be filed within a specific timeframe, referred to in legal terms as the statute of limitations. If you do not file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you will lose all of your rights, no matter how strong your claim is or how obvious it is that the other party should be held accountable.
There is a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. This means that you must file your claim within two years of the date of the victim’s death. This is an important detail because the date of the victim’s death is often later than the date of the accident, which determines the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims. As a result, a personal injury claim can sometimes turn into a wrongful death claim. If you wait too long, however, you will have lost your right to bring any claim whatsoever.
There are exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. If there is a pending criminal case, for example, the statute of limitations will be paused (“tolled, in legal terminology) pending the resolution of the criminal case. The statute of limitations may also be tolled for up to five years if the victim’s estate has not yet completed the probate process.
What You Will Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Case
In a wrongful death claim, you are pursuing financial compensation for the losses caused by the victim’s death. In order to be successful, you will have to prove the following:
- That the other party’s actions (intentional or negligent) caused the victim’s death;
- The “full value” of the victim’s life (explained in the prior post);
- The value of any other losses caused by the victim’s life
For each of these, you will need to introduce specific evidence supporting your claim. The other party may dispute your claim and introduce their own evidence. They may acknowledge that their actions caused the death but dispute the value of your claim, or they may deny any liability whatsoever. Regardless, the burden of proof lies with the party bringing the claim – you cannot prevail if you cannot prove your case.
Wrongful Death Claims Are Very Technical
We should emphasize that wrongful death claims can be very complicated. There are the threshold legal issues such as who can bring the claim. There may be estate issues that you will need to navigate. If there is a criminal prosecution involved, you will need to understand how that can impact your case. Then there are the factual issues that will determine whether the other party is at fault and what amount of compensation you should receive. Most non-lawyers find themselves quickly overwhelmed and unable to pursue their claim.
Contact the Georgia Wrongful Death Attorneys at Slappey & Sadd
If you’ve lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s actions, you may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim. Unfortunately, time is not on your side – you need to speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. The wrongful death attorneys at Slappey & Sadd can help you navigate this difficult time. To schedule a free consultation, email or call us at 888-474-9616 today.