The Watson Law Firm is very sorry for the loss that makes it necessary for you to even have to review this section of our site. What follows is, we hope, a helpful guide to navigating the legal aspect of what is no doubt a traumatic event in the your life and the life of your loved ones.
Georgia law provides the survivors of those wrongfully killed with a path to justice. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members can gain financial security as well as a sense of closure in knowing that those responsible for their loved one’s death will be held accountable by a court of law.
Georgia law allows the spouse, children, and/or parents of a deceased person to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against any person or company responsible for the death of a loved one. In some cases, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought against the government. Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed after any kind of negligent act, including those involving trucking accidents or premises liability matters.
When you're asking questions about why your family member or friend has died unnecessarily, and the big corporations, trucking companies, and insurance adjusters won’t give you answers and let the attorneys at the Watson Law Firm stand by your side. Together, we’ll fight for justice.
Georgia Wrongful Death
Georgia state law defines a "wrongful death" as the death of one person caused by the "negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal" acts of another person or entity (such as a business). Negligence is typically defined as a failure to use reasonable care when there is a duty to do so, resulting in harm to another.
In some ways, a wrongful death case is similar to a standard personal injury claim. Negligence must also be proven in many types of personal injury claims, and both a personal injury claim and a wrongful death claim may be based upon a similar event, like a car accident. However, in a wrongful death claim, the injured person is no longer available to bring his or her own case to court. Instead, the case must be brought by the deceased person's family members -- or by the personal representative of the deceased person's estate if there are no living family members who are allowed to bring the claim (more on this in the next section).
Who can Bring a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim?
Georgia law specifies who may bring a wrongful death claim to court, beginning with the spouse of the deceased person. If the spouse and the deceased person had minor children, the surviving spouse must also represent the interests of the children in court. In no case can the spouse receive less than one-third of the total recovery, no matter how many children there are.
If no surviving spouse or children are available to bring the claim to court, the claim may be brought by the following parties:
the surviving parent or parents of the deceased, or
the personal representative of the deceased person's estate.
If the personal representative brings the claim, any damages recovered are held by the estate for the benefit of the deceased person's next of kin.
Damages Available in Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
Georgia recognizes two separate and distinct types of wrongful death claims. In the first claim for a Georgia Wrongful Death case, the claim would be for the "full value of the life of the deceased." This claim is brought by or on behalf of the surviving family members (usually the closest living relative, such as a spouse, parent, or children) of the deceased person. It includes monetary damages related to both the financial and intangible value of the deceased person's life, such as:
- lost wages and benefits, including what the deceased person might reasonably have earned if he or she had lived, and
- loss of care, companionship, and other intangible benefits the deceased provided to loved ones.
The second claim that can be brought is one meant to remedy the financial, or monetary, losses related to the deceased person's death. This claim is brought by or on behalf of the deceased person's estate, and it seeks to establish and recover the losses the estate suffered in relation to the untimely death. Damages that may be recovered in this claim include:
- medical expenses related to the deceased person's last illness or injury
- funeral and burial expenses, and conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased just before death.
Note that the two claims may involve entirely different persons. Talk with the lawyers at The Watson Law Firm