Chattanooga Wrongful Death Lawyers
If a close relative died due to the reckless acts or negligence of someone else, you know the profound pain and sense of loss that you and your family feel. Dealing with the emotional suffering, the medical bills, and the funeral expenses, along with a loss of family income can add financial pressures to an already difficult time. When someone else was responsible for your relative’s passing, you may have legal rights to compensation.
Money can’t bring your loved one back, but it can provide a sense of justice and give you and your family closure that allows you to heal and get your lives back to some degree of normalcy. The Chattanooga personal injury lawyers of The Davis Firm, LLC have represented many families in wrongful death claims and has helped them seek the compensation they deserve.
Scott Davis is a wrongful death attorney with a background in the insurance defense industry. That means he knows all the ways insurance companies try to fight wrongful death claims. Now he uses that knowledge and experience to help families seek compensation for the harm suffered through the wrongful death of a loved one.
With over 200 cases tried to verdict, insurance companies know to take him seriously when negotiating a fair, reasonable resolution of a claim. As a former judge advocate for the U.S. Air Force, he espouses the values of service and respect to serve innocent victims by seeking the justice they need and deserve.
If your loved one suffered a tragic death that was the fault of someone else, contact the Chattanooga wrongful death lawyers at The Davis Firm, LLC today to learn about your family’s legal rights and about the compensation you may be entitled to recover.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In both Georgia and Tennessee, a deceased victim’s spouse is entitled to file a wrongful death claim. If the victim had no spouse, that right passes to the victim’s children, or if the victim had no children, to their next of kin.
Alternatively, a wrongful death claim can be brought by the personal representative of the victim’s estate for the benefit of a surviving spouse or next of kin, particularly where there is no surviving spouse or child to bring the claim themselves
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases Our Law Firm Handles
Wrongful death claims can arise from all kinds of negligence — intentional tort, premises liability, product liability, or toxic tort claims. Our law firm represents victims’ families in wrongful death claim arising from situations including, for example:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including negligence, DUI, and vehicular manslaughter or homicide
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Worksite accidents, including construction sites, railroads, or airports
- Premises liability, including slip/trip and fall, falling objects, or falls from heights
- Defective or dangerous products, including consumer products, machinery and equipment, or pharmaceuticals
- Contaminated food
- Assaults and homicide
If your loved one suffered a tragic death due to someone else’s careless, reckless or intentional actions, contact the trusted Chattanooga wrongful death lawyers at The Davis Firm, LLC today to learn more about your legal rights and how we can fight for your family’s interests.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Georgia, “wrongful death” is defined as a death caused by the “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” acts of another person or entity. Tennessee defines wrongful death as a death caused by “injuries received from another” or “the wrongful act, omission, or killing by another.”
The burden of proof for a wrongful death claim depends on the circumstances underlying the death. In many cases, a wrongful death claim arises from the alleged negligence of another party. In other cases, the underlying cause for the wrongful death may be subject to a strict liability standard. And in other cases, the wrongful death may be alleged to have arisen from intentional homicide.
If asserting a wrongful death claim based on the negligence of another party, as in all negligence claims, you must prove four things:
- The existence of a duty owed by the defendant to the deceased
- The breach of that duty
- That the breach directly and proximately caused damages
- The existence of damages
In most negligence cases, the duty of care simply involves using reasonable care not to harm another. However, in cases where the exercise of some special skill was involved, such as in medical malpractice, expert testimony may be necessary to prove that a reasonable professional with similar training and experience would not have acted as the alleged party did.
This duty of care is directly breached if the deceased would not have died but for the breach. Proximate cause is found if no intervening, superseding cause brought about the deceased’s death. For example, if the deceased is injured in a motor vehicle accident, loaded into an ambulance, and then the ambulance is struck by an 18-wheeler, killing the decedent, the 18-wheeler would be considered the proximate cause.
When arguing that your loved one’s wrongful death occurred due to the intentional acts of another, you will need to prove that the responsible party had one of three states of mind:
- Willful – The responsible party willed for his or her acts to cause the deceased’s death.
- Knowing – The responsible party knew that his or her acts would cause the deceased’s death, but may not have willed it.
- Reckless – The responsible party consciously disregarded a substantial risk that his or her acts would cause the deceased’s death.
In these types of wrongful death claims, there is often a criminal case brought against the alleged responsible party that may help prove your claim.
The requirements for proving a wrongful death claim are as varied as the circumstances that give rise to such claims. The wrongful death attorneys at The Davis Firm, LLC can advise you about the underlying circumstances in your family’s wrongful death claim and what you’ll need to prove to prevail.
Compensation for Families in a Wrongful Death Claim
Georgia law recognizes two separate categories of compensation in wrongful death claims. The first category is a claim for the “full value of the life of the deceased.” This claim is technically brought by or on behalf of the deceased’s family members and provides monetary damages for both the financial and intangible value of the deceased’s life, such as:
- Financial value – Lost wages and benefits, calculated as the income the deceased might have reasonably earned had he or she lived to his or her life expectancy
- Intangible value – Loss of companionship, care, and services the deceased provided to his or her family
If the deceased had a surviving spouse and children, these amounts are divided equally among them, with the decedent’s spouse taking no less than one-third of the recovery.
The second category of compensation is meant to provide a remedy for the financial losses arising from the deceased’s death. This claim is brought by or on behalf of the deceased’s estate since the estate is responsible for such expenses, which can include:
- Costs of last illness or injury or the medical expenses and hospital bills incurred in trying to treat or save the decedent’s fatal injury or illness
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering (intended to compensate the deceased for the pain they endured just before death)
Under Tennessee law, wrongful death damages fall into numerous categories, including:
- The deceased’s lost earnings during the period between the infliction of injury or onset of illness and the decedent’s death
- The deceased’s lost enjoyment of life during that same period
- Pain and suffering the deceased endured from their illness or injury
- Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have likely earned had they lived to their life expectancy
- Physical and psychological suffering incurred by family members as a result of the deceased’s death
- Time and monetary expenses incurred by family members as a result of the deceased’s death
- Loss of the deceased’s companionship, care, and services to the family
How Our Chattanooga Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help You
After the loss of a loved one, the grief and pain can be devastating. Add to that the burden and stress of funeral planning, worry over unpaid medical bills, loss of your loved one’s income, and loss of companionship, you may feel too overwhelmed to consider seeking compensation from the parties who were are responsible for your loved one’s death. But pursuing a wrongful death claim can provide you and your family with some measure of closure and stability.
The wrongful death lawyers at The Davis Firm, LLC can take on the burden of pursuing compensation and justice for your loved one, while you and your family take time to heal and recover from your loss. Whether a wrongful death arises from a motor vehicle crash, a workplace accident, medical malpractice, a defective product or drug, or some other cause, there is often a significant amount of evidence to collect and analyze.
Our wrongful death lawyers will get to work collecting the evidence surrounding your loved one’s death and begin building a case to show that the other party is responsible. We’ll coordinate with the necessary experts to parse through the evidence and obtain critical expert opinions that can help prove your claim.
Our wrongful death attorneys can then begin negotiating with the responsible parties or their insurance companies to try to achieve a fair, reasonable settlement. However, if we can’t obtain a settlement that does justice to you and your loved one, we stand ready to take your claim to court to fight for a favorable verdict. We have tried hundreds of cases to verdict, so we know how to make a winning argument.
We’ll show care and compassion in handling your family’s wrongful death claim, giving you the space to grieve while we fight to get justice for your loved one.
Statutes of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the victim’s death. However, under Georgia law, the two-year period is suspended if there is a criminal case arising from the same events that allegedly caused the wrongful death. Georgia law also allows the statute of limitations to be tolled (delayed) up to five years if the deceased victim’s estate has not been probated.
In Tennessee, the limitations period for wrongful death claims is one year.
In all cases, the limitations period may be delayed for equitable reasons, such as the discovery rule or the misfeasance of the responsible party. Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations may be delayed until the date when the plaintiff learns of facts giving rise to the wrongful death claim, or when they should have become aware of such facts through reasonable diligence. If the allegedly responsible person acts to prevent the claim from being brought, the court may rule that equity requires the statute of limitations to be delayed for a certain period.
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Contact the Chattanooga Wrongful Death Lawyers at The Davis Firm, LLC Today
When you’ve had a loved one tragically die through the acts or negligence of someone else, no amount of money bring your relative back to life. But you and your family deserve compensation and justice for your loss. You may be entitled to compensation to give you a measure of stability as you cope with the loss of your loved one.
Attorney Scott Davis, a wrongful death lawyer at The Davis Firm, LLC, stands ready to do the heavy lifting of pursuing justice for your family so that you can focus on grieving and healing. Contact the Chattanooga wrongful death lawyers at The Davis Firm, LLC by phone or online today to discuss your legal rights during a free consultation.