A wrongful death claim arises in Georgia when person or company, either through negligence, an intentional act or by way of manufacturing a defective product, causes the death of another person. However, in such cases, multiple claims often have to be presented, which can result in the plaintiff(s) pursuing the case individually as well as through an Estate.
Similar to personal injury claims, the wrongful conduct of the defendant must be proven in order for a decedent’s relatives to bring a wrongful death claim. Georgia also specifies which family members can bring the claim, based on next of kin. If the decedent was married at the time of death, the spouse would be the proper party to bring the claim individually. If there are minor children, the spouse must also represent the interests of the children to be split evenly, though the spouse can never receive less than one-third of the settlement. If no surviving spouse or children exist, the parents or the personal representative of the estate of the deceased victim can bring the claim.
A plaintiff in a wrongful death claim may claim the tangible and intangible “full value of the life of the decedent.” These damages are not proven based on what the family members lost, but alternatively from the viewpoint of the deceased victim. Intangible factors of the decedent’s life would involve the victim’s relationships with family and friends as well as the decedent’s loss of society, advice, counsel, and companionship with the plaintiff and others. Tangible factors normally refer to economic loss, such as future lost income, reduced to present cash value.
However, a wrongful death claim is only a piece of the entire cause of action claimed by a victim’s family. Often, plaintiffs choose to also pursue a survival claim, which must be brought by an estate, but allows for recovery of
- Medical expenses incurred by the decedent prior to death.
- Funeral/ burial expenses
- Pain and Suffering of the decedent prior to death
If you have tragically lost a family member in an accident caused by negligence, do not delay in seeking legal assistance, as you have a limited amount of time to pursue a claim.
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