Wrongful death is a type of legal claim that arises when someone is killed because of the action or inaction of another person. This type of lawsuit is asserted by family members who have lost their loved one.
Unfortunately, some accidents lead to more than just injuries and property damage. Car accidents, slip and fall incidents, and product liability cases are just examples of situations that can cause the death of a loved one. Virtually any type of case that can result in a personal injury lawsuit can also lead to a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death lawsuits are defined by statute in Georgia. The purpose of the wrongful death statutes is to allow the family to recover losses they must face when their loved one passes away. There is no amount of money that can replace a loved one. But when someone passes away who was previously providing support to a family, life can become very difficult for the survivors. Wrongful death lawsuits help address this type of loss, among others.
The Parties in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Only certain family members are permitted to start a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. These people are defined by statute. Only a surviving spouse or surviving children can begin a wrongful death legal claim. The children can only start this lawsuit if there is no surviving spouse, which means the spouse is often the person who must file the lawsuit.
If the deceased has no surviving spouse and no surviving children, then their personal representative can start a lawsuit on behalf of the estate. Any money recovered will go to the decedent’s heirs (who are not children or a spouse, since there are none in this case).
The decedent’s estate can also assert a lawsuit that involves the losses the loved one would have faced if they would have survived the accident, such as medical expenses and damages for pain and suffering. Because the surviving spouse is often the executor of the estate, they usually claim all of these damages in one lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Damages
Georgia law permits recovery of the “full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence.” The wrongful death statute doesn’t define what this means, but case law in Georgia indicates this value is created by combining several parts. Those parts include:
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits
- Loss of care and companionship
These damages are available for the time in which the decedent would have lived. So, an estimate must be made of how much these items would be if the accident had not happened. This is a complicated process, but it is necessary to get the full value of your loss. That’s why it’s often best handled with the help of a wrongful death lawyer.
Damages can also include expenses for medical expenses, funeral costs, and other similar items.
John Foy & Associates can help you with this process. We understand how difficult it is to lose a loved one, and we want to help make the process as stress-free as possible for you. Let us give you a free consultation to get started. Call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form and get your free consultation today.