Georgia laws allow the survivors of a deceased person to recover compensation if that person died due to the negligence of another party. In such an event, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed against the liable entity.
A wide range of damages are available in a wrongful death lawsuit. These include both tangible costs as well as intangible costs. The tangible damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim include:
- Medical costs of pre-death treatment, diagnosis, hospitalization, and surgery where applicable
- Lost wages and benefits which the deceased person would have earned had the death not occurred
- Full monetary value of the deceased, calculated by considering the average life span and backed by suitable evidence
- The costs of funeral and burial expenses
While these are the tangible losses, the intangible losses of a wrongful death include:
- Pain and suffering which the deceased victim had to endure before the demise
- Loss of consortium, care, companionship, and other intangible losses that the emotional and financial dependents of the deceased had to suffer
Georgia has no cap on the maximum award in a wrongful death lawsuit. This means that there is no limit on the amount of damages the claimants can seek in a claim like this. Past awards have been to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. However, the actual amount of compensation depends on a number of factors.
Who Can File the Lawsuit?
The family members of the deceased, particularly the ones who were emotionally and financially dependent on the deceased, are the beneficiaries of a wrongful death lawsuit. They are also the ones who have a right to file the lawsuit. Here is a look at the persons who can file the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased:
- The spouse of the deceased: If the deceased had a spouse, and the two were living together at the time of death, the spouse has the first right to file the lawsuit under Georgia Codes Section 51-4-2. The spouse is also entitled to the bulk of damages recovered in the lawsuit. At least one-third of the compensatory damages go to the spouse.
- The children of the deceased: If there is no surviving spouse, the lawsuit can be filed by a child or children of the deceased victim. If the spouse has separated and children have the primary claim, the surviving spouse may file the lawsuit on behalf of the children.
- The parents of the deceased: If the deceased does not have a surviving spouse or had not married, and has no children, the right to file the wrongful death lawsuit rests with any surviving parents of the victim.
- The representative of the deceased person’s estate: If the deceased person’s estate has a designated representative, this person is also entitled to file a wrongful death claim. The damages that are then recovered in the lawsuit go to the estate of the deceased and are disbursed among the next-of-kin as per the legal stipulations. It is important to note that if the estate has any creditors, the damages can’t be claimed by them for the settlement of debts.
What Are Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
The wrongful death of a person can occur for a number of reasons. In all cases, the death is determined as wrongful if the negligence of another person or entity is involved. Typical situations that lead to accidents causing wrongful death include:
- Traffic accidents involving vehicles
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents, especially accidents related to the construction industry
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Accidents caused by defective products
- Premises liability incidents
The list noted above is not exhaustive. So if you have lost a loved one in virtually any kind of accident that involves negligence of another, you may have a valid claim for wrongful death damages.
Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Atlanta, GA
The issue of filing a wrongful death lawsuit and determining the share of dependents once damages are awarded, can be quite complex. This is why it is important to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer before you file a claim.
Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we offer legal help to the claimants in a wrongful death case. Whether you are a family member, an estate representative, or another legal heir filing the claim, our lawyers can help you. Reach out to us today to schedule a free session with our lawyers.