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How Quickly do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim can help offset many of the financial damages caused by the death of a family member. In the state of Georgia, it is also important to file the claim timely before the deadline passes.  This is one of the main reasons you should consult with an attorney soon after the accident to protect all of your legal rights.

Wrongful death claims can help family members and survivors recover compensation for the loss of the decedent’s income, loss of future earning and other damages like loss of affection, loss of parental guidance, and loss of consortium, as in the case of the death of a spouse.

A wrongful death claim can arise when a death has occurred as the result of the negligence of another. Examples can be claims that are filed after deaths in car or motorcycle crashes, deaths in slip and fall accidents, or deaths that occur as a result of the use of a defective product.  The statute of limitations may differ depending on the circumstances of the incident that has occurred.

The term “statute of limitations” refers to the time window that you have within which to file your claim for wrongful death damages.  There is a specific statute of limitations that apply to all wrongful death claims in Georgia.

If the death occurred as a result of a car or other auto accident, you have to file a claim within a period of 2 years after the death occurred for the claim to be able to proceed. Any claim filed after this window has closed may not be accepted.

If the death has occurred as the result of a criminal act, and the other party is facing criminal charges as a result of the attack, you have a window of 2 years within which you must bring a claim for damages. Examples of these types of claims are claims based on negligent security involving persons who died as a result of an assault or violent attack. However, the 2 years here are counted from the date of the end of the criminal proceedings. If all charges against the defendant were dropped, the time limit starts from the date that the charges were dropped. If he took a plea or went to trial, the date starts from the date of the plea or the date that the trial ended.

Remember, you can continue to bring a wrongful death claim against the other party even if he was acquitted in criminal court. The most famous example of this is the OJ Simpson case in which Simpson was acquitted of the murder charges against him, but was ordered to pay millions in wrongful death damages in civil suits brought by the murder victims.

If the wrongful death claim that you are filing is against state authorities, a city, county or other municipality, then the time limit to file the claim can be as short as 6 months. Again, this may depend on whether you are filing a claim against local bodies, Georgia state authorities or federal agencies.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or reckless acts of another, call an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer at the Katz Law Firm to understand how you can recover damages for your losses.