Georgia Wrongful Death Claims


December 08, 2010

The death of a loved one is an emotionally trying time which is made even more challenging when the death is caused by another person's negligent or intentional conduct. When faced with such a crisis, a family faces enormous emotional and financial challenges.The loss of someone we love in a tragic accident or through an intentional act, like an attack, can make dealing with financial decisions and whether to bring a legal claim the last thing from one's mind.

Unfortunately, a decision that comes only after one has mourned the loss of a loved one can result in circumstances evolving so that an option no longer exists to bring a claim. Although Georgia law allows a person the right to bring a claim for wrongful death, delay may result in serious damage to that right because evidence may disappear or be destroyed if any significant period of time passes. There are also legal time limits including the statute of limitations which can mean a claim is barred entirely if it is not initiated promptly. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing the families of people killed by others through negligent or intentional conduct throughout Atlanta and all of Georgia for over 25 years.

A wrongful death claim may arise out of many types of negligent or intentional conduct by individuals or companies. Some common examples of situations that often give rise to wrongful death claims in Georgia include the following:

• Car accidents

• Motorcycle accidents

• Commercial trucking accidents

• Malpractice by a medical professional

• Defective or dangerous products

• Dangerous drugs

• Construction accidents

• Violent crimes or inadequate security

These are only a few examples as a wrongful death action may be based on almost any type of intentional or negligent act that results in a victim's death. A wrongful death action really is composed of two types of claims. One of the claims is brought by the family of the deceased and the other is brought by the deceased's estate. The family member's statutory claim is usually the larger of the claims for damages.

The Georgia wrongful death statute specifies a hierarchy that governs who may bring a claim for wrongful death. Under Georgia's wrongful death law, the spouse is the person who brings a wrongful death action if the deceased was married. However, a spouse must share any recovery with the couple's children. If the person killed was not married, then one's children have the right to bring the wrongful death claim. If the person killed was unmarried and has no children, then the person's parents may bring a wrongful death action. If the parent's are no longer living, then brothers and sisters of the person killed may bring the wrongful death action. If none of these family members are living to bring a claim, the personal representative may be appointed to represent the deceased on behalf of "next of kin," such as, brothers or sisters.

There are two types of recovery in a wrongful death action which include the claim by the estate of the victim and the other brought by the family of the victim although they are typically brought in a single lawsuit. The court may award damages to the estate of the deceased for medical expenses, pain and suffering, as well as funeral and burial expenses. Pain and suffering damages are not awarded if death is instantaneous. By contrast, this component of damages can be very substantial if much time passes between the incident that causes the victim's injuries and the resulting death.

The other type of compensation awarded in a wrongful death action is the claim for the value of the loss of life. This means both the economic value in terms of lost future earnings and the intangible value of one's life. We will typically use family photos, videos and stories that give insight into one's life so that a jury will have a better feel for the intangible value of a victim's life. This type of evidence helps a jury understand that the value of someone's life is more than just the lost earnings but all of the potential experiences that the deceased will now never enjoy.

At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we know that no sum of money can truly compensate you for the loss of someone you love. However, we also know that you may face real economic challenges including loss of family income, extraordinary medical bills and funeral expenses. It is also important that wrongful conduct be discouraged. Where conduct is particularly aggressive or malicious, the court may even award punitive damages which can be substantial. The attorneys of Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, have been representing families just like yours in Atlanta and throughout Georgia for over 25 years. 

Call Montlick & Associates today to see how our experienced Georgia wrongful death lawyers can help. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.