While the loss of a loved one is always difficult, it is often even harder when the loss was caused by another’s negligence. The tragic loss of a loved one means more than just losing an important relationship. When a family member is killed, it means the loss of a future together, the loss of the opportunity to see children grow older, and the loss of creating lasting and meaningful memories. When a parent or spouse is killed, the surviving family members may suffer financial losses that can cripple the family going forward for years to come. The wrongful death of a child can be one of the most difficult burdens for parents to endure. No parent should ever have to outlive their children, and the loss of a child can destroy a family.
Families who lose loved ones because of someone else’s negligence should not have to deal with financial hardship on top of their grief. When a loved one is killed by someone else’s negligence, the family may be entitled to compensation for the loved one’s wrongful death.
When Can a Victim’s Family Receive Compensation for a Wrongful Death?
When a person or company causes an injury, the injured victim can normally pursue a personal injury claim. If the victim is killed, however, there is no injured party to make a legal case. This does not mean that there are no losses, nor does it mean the person who caused the death should not be held accountable. If the victim would have had an injury claim, had he survived, then it is typically possible for a wrongful death claim to be made. A wrongful death claim can provide the family of a victim with compensation if a claim is made against a defendant and there is proof the defendant directly caused the death through negligence, wrongdoing, or failure to fulfill a legal obligation. Some of the most typical cases involving wrongful death claims include:
Under Georgia law, the surviving spouse of the deceased has the right to bring a claim for wrongful death. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(a). If there are also surviving children, the surviving spouse is entitled to no less than 1/3rd of the recovery with the remainder shared equally by the surviving children. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(d)(2). If there is no surviving spouse, the children of the deceased may bring a claim if they are eighteen years-old or older. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(a). If there is no surviving spouse and no children of majority, the executor or personal administrator of the estate may bring a wrongful death claim. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5.
In cases involving the wrongful death of a child, the surviving parents are entitled to bring a claim. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1(b)(2). If there are no surviving parents, the executor of the deceased’s estate or personal representative may proceed with the wrongful death claim. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5.
As with every personal injury case, there are deadlines for bringing a case for a family member’s wrongful death. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in Georgia is two years from the date the wrongful death occurs (i.e., the date of death). O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. While this two-year deadline may be extended if the at-fault party is criminally prosecuted, the surviving family members should not delay in seeking advice from a wrongful death attorney immediately to ensure no deadlines are missed.
What Type of Compensation is Available in Wrongful Death Cases?
In a Georgia wrongful death case, the person(s) who bring the claim are entitled to receive the “full value of the life of the deceased without deduction for necessary or other personal expenses of the deceased if that person had lived.” O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1. Unlike many other states, the full value of the life is evaluated standing in the shoes of the deceased, not the surviving family members. In assigning the full value of the life of the deceased, the question a jury must determine is, “What was life worth to the deceased”? The full value of life consists of both economic and non-economic components. The economic component is made up of lost wages and/or earnings over the deceased’s entire life expectancy. The non-economic component is intangible and is based on the deceased’s lost relationships, friendships, hobbies, hopes and dreams that will never be realized.
In addition to the wrongful death claim, the executor or personal representative of the deceased’s estate also has a claim for pre-death medical expenses, burial and funeral expenses, and pre-death fright and/or conscious pain and suffering, if any. This is frequently known as the “survival” claim. Any money allocated to the Estate’s “survival” claim will be distributed in accordance with the deceased’s will or if there was no will, according to Georgia’s intestacy laws.
How Can an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney Help?
The attorneys at Glass & Robson provide compassionate and knowledgeable legal representation to families suffering from the wrongful death of a loved one. We understand that while no amount of money will replace the loss of a family member, monetary compensation for a family member’s wrongful death can help a family avoid future financial uncertainty and allow them to focus on the grieving process. In cases where a business or corporation is to blame, pursuing a wrongful death case can help change corporate behavior and ensure that what happened to your loved one does not happen to anyone else. The attorneys in our firm have experience pursuing wrongful death cases in a variety of areas, including:
Our experienced wrongful death attorneys will assist the family in setting up the Estate or having an administrator appointed if there is no will. We will also advise surviving family members on the best options available for allocating the wrongful death proceeds and provide recommendations on financial institutions that specialize in protecting the minor children’s share of the recovery.
The lawyers in our firm have gone up against some of the biggest corporations and insurance companies in the country fighting on behalf of our clients for justice. We are ready to help your family pursue justice for a loved one’s wrongful death. Please give us a call at (404) 751-4702 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys