If you have had a loved one killed in an accident, we will fight to bring you justice for the loss of your loved one. Grieving the loss of a loved one can be especially difficult knowing the death could possibly have been prevented. The expenses of sudden death are often crippling and overwhelming to family members who are left behind to grieve. A wrongful death claim could help ease the financial strain that accompanies this type of circumstance.
A wrongful death claim is different than most other claims. There is no criminal implication for those involved. The ultimate goal of a wrongful death case is for the family to receive financial compensation, not to punish the opposing party. Jail time or convictions will not be the result of a wrongful death lawsuit. Instead, the negligent party will be responsible for just compensation.
The negligence or misconduct of another party that leads to a person’s death or proven intent to harm is grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. In order to make a wrongful death claim there has to be leftover monetary loss for the family. A situation where a living person could have filed for a personal injury claim, but died at the hands of the other party’s negligence is typically a situation where a wrongful death can be claimed.
In order to have a strong case in a wrongful death lawsuit there are a few factors that should be investigated before or during a lawsuit. These will determine whether or not the case can be considered wrongful death.
In some way there has to be proof that the recklessness of the opposing party caused the victim’s death. This could be shown in a variety of ways such as results from an autopsy, but must explain the “how” or, in other words, the cause. For example, “The results of ___ show that this person did ___ which led to wrongful death.”
It may seem obvious that death is the damage. However, as mentioned above, there has to be proof of damage to the family or could include the amount of suffering by the victim before death. The damages help the jury come to a conclusion of what amount of compensation is appropriate for the circumstances which will be discussed further later on.
Examples of damages could include:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of household income
If there is to be a lawsuit, there has to be a responsible party. There has to be someone who had a duty to protect someone’s health, safety and life and ultimately failed because of an error on their own part. The defendant must have had a duty to the deceased. This could be the responsibility of a driver to remain alert, the responsibility of a doctor to be qualified and the responsibility of an employer to provide a safe work environment and all opportunities to protect their employees.
The death of the person must be proven to be due in part or in full to the negligence of the responsible party. Neglect is also known as recklessness or carelessness. Most wrongful death cases are due to some form of neglect and not directly out of intention to kill.
Surviving family members such as parents, spouse, or children are most often the ones that file wrongful death claims. Below is an explanation and breakdown of the relationship. Use this to narrow down and ascertain which party should be responsible for proposing the claim and driving the lawsuit for the deceased.
The following people can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia:
- The spouse of the deceased.
- If there is no spouse, the child or children of the deceased.
- If there is no spouse or children, then the parents of the deceased.
- If there is no spouse, children, or parents, then the administrator or executor of the deceased’s estate.
Georgia law states that you are entitled to the full value of the life of the deceased. How is the full value of the life of the deceased measured? The full value of the life of the deceased is generally measured by the economic value of the deceased’s life and the non-economic value of the deceased’s life.
The economic value of the deceased’s life is based on the projected lifetime earnings of the deceased. To determine this amount, there would need to be a determination of the life expectancy of the deceased and what the projected earnings would be for the deceased’s remaining lifespan had the deceased survived.
The non-economic value of the deceased’s life includes things that money cannot buy, like the joys of marriage, parenthood, vacations, hobbies, and all of the things the deceased enjoyed and valued that they lost when they died. The non-economic value of the deceased’s life does not have an exact value, but is instead calculated by the jury based on the jurors judgment.
The estate of the deceased may also bring a claim for the death of the deceased. The estate of the deceased is entitled to recover for the funeral, medical, and other necessary expenses resulting from the injury and death of the deceased. The estate of the deceased may also bring a claim for punitive damages as well as for any pain and suffering the deceased suffered in the moments prior to the deceased’s death.
If you have had a loved one killed in an accident in Georgia, please call us at 770-365-6414 for a free case evaluation.