How Long Does a Wrongful Death Claim Take?

Date: 08:08:2022 | 193 article views
By: Edward F. Kim

A wrongful death occurs when the negligence of another person or entity causes the death of another person. While this might typically be a personal injury claim, if the individual dieseither soon after the accident or even months laterit becomes a wrongful death case. If you're wondering how long a wrongful death claim takes from start to finish, this can vary widely based on claim complexity but can generally take anywhere from 1-2 years to settle or go to a jury verdict.

Each state has specific and different types of wrongful death statutes that govern who can file a wrongful death claim, how long loved ones have to file the claim and other wrongful death issues.

Wrongful death claims in Georgia are most often the result of:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Dangerous or defective consumer products, prescription drugs, or medical devices
  • Workplace accidents
  • Animal attacks
  • Truck accidents
  • Airplane, bus, and train accidents

What is the Statute of Limitations for Georgia Wrongful Death Claims?

A statute of limitations is the window of time in which loved ones have to file a wrongful death claim. In Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years from the time of the death. While rare, there are specific circumstances under which the two years could be shorter or longer. You must contact an experienced Atlanta wrongful death attorney to ensure you don’t miss your window of opportunity.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in the State of Georgia?

A decedent's spouse can bring a claim against the negligent party. If there is no husband or wife, a child of the decedent may bring the lawsuit. The parents of a decedent with no husband, wife, or children can file the claim, or when there is no spouse, children, or living parent, the estate administrator can file a wrongful death case.

What is the “Full Value of the Life”?

Georgia looks at wrongful death claims based on “the full value of the life” (O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2). The full value of a person’s life has two parts: intangible and tangible value of life. The decedent’s family, relationships, and reasons for living fall under the intangible value of life. The money the decedent would have earned and the value of the household jobs handled by the decedent falls under the tangible value of life.

How Long Will Your Georgia Wrongful Death Case Take?

If you have filed a Georgia wrongful death claim, you may wonder how long your claim will take to settle. Every wrongful death claim is unique in some way, therefore, the time it takes will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. An estate for the decedent must first be established, then fairly straightforward cases may settle quickly–from 4-6 months. The “average” time frame for a wrongful death claim to make it to settlement is between 6 months and 17 months.

In particularly complex cases or cases where the insurer is willing to fight in court rather than offer a fair settlement, a wrongful death claim can take two years–or even more. In fact, whether the wrongful death claim goes to court or not will be a significant determining factor in how long the claim takes. Court dockets are usually backed up, meaning it could take a while to get a court date for your claim. Other issues that can impact the time a wrongful death claim takes include:

  • The defendant in the case also faces criminal charges like homicide or manslaughter.
  • The wrongful death claim is worth a significant amount of money. Therefore, the insurance company delays a payout as long as possible.
  • The wrongful death resulted from a hit-and-run auto accident, or the fault is otherwise complicated.
  • The insurance company is refuting fault or arguing that another person or entity shares in the negligence.
  • The insurance company is acting in bad faith.

Speaking to a knowledgeable Atlanta wrongful death attorney can help you pay bills in the interim until the wrongful death claim is settled. You may be able to access your insurance company, a workers’ compensation claim, or insurance subrogation.

Remember–a quick settlement offer may not be a good thing. Once accepted, you cannot renegotiate a settlement, and the first offer may drastically underestimate the losses associated with the death of your loved one.

Contact Our Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers

The Kim Law team has helped grieving families in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. If you lost a loved one because of another person’s wrongdoing, we can help. Our team of experienced and compassionate wrongful death attorneys will guide you through this painful time. We want to take the legal burdens off your shoulders, so you can focus on your family and rebuilding your lives after suffering such a painful loss.

Call 404-587-8946 to schedule a FREE initial consultations and claim review, so you can get the answers you need - when you need them. Just call and JUST WIN.