It’s life changing: That knock on your door in the middle of the night. You are groggy; you see it is a police officer. The officer has the sad duty to inform you that someone you love has been killed in a tragic accident. You are still in shock when you hear the circumstances of the accident. Perhaps the other driver had been drinking or perhaps a heavy truck whose driver had been speeding hit your family member’s vehicle. You are saddened; you’re enraged. How can you go on?
Georgia Wrongful Death Law
Georgia law recognizes that nothing can ever be done to bring back the person who was so wrongfully taken away, but it does have provisions for compensating family members for the financial losses associated with an untimely death. In some situation, it also provides for the pain and suffering that the deceased underwent in the moments or seconds before his or her passing.
Two Separate, Distinct Sorts of Claims
Generally, Georgia law provides two separate and quite distinct forms of recovery when a person’s death has been brought about by the negligence or fault of another.
The Wrongful Death Claim
In Georgia (and most states), there is a hierarchy of relatives who have the right to file a wrongful death action:
- Spouse/Children – If the deceased is survived by a spouse, then that spouse has the right to file a wrongful death action against the party responsible for the death of the loved one. If the spouse and the deceased had children, then the spouse must file the civil action on behalf of herself or himself and the children. One-third of the award is designated as belonging to the surviving spouse and two-thirds of the award go to the children, to be shared equally among them. If the loved one had no spouse, but did have children, the children share the recovery equally.
- Parent – If the loved one had neither spouse nor children, any surviving parent of the deceased may file the wrongful death action.
- Estate – If the deceased had no spouse, no children, and no living parents, then the wrongful death action may be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.
In a wrongful death action, those who have filed the suit are entitled to the full value of the life of the deceased. While that sounds straightforward, it isn’t.
A jury is entitled to estimate the full economic loss caused by the untimely death. For example, a 38-year-old deceased, who held a good job and had prospects for advancement, would have earned several million dollars over his or her working life. The deceased would probably have been entitled to retirement and other monetary benefits.
The jury can also award recovery for non-economic factors: The value that can be placed on the loss of companionship, a father’s or mother’s guidance for the children, and so on. Skilled legal attorneys are required in order to tell this story.
The Estate’s Claim
The estate of the deceased is entitled to a separate recovery. Damages here can include:
- Funeral expenses,
- Medical expenses connected with any treatment, and
- Other out-of-pocket expenses incurred.
Pain and Suffering
The estate is also entitled to recover for any pain and suffering endured by the deceased. Particularly when the deceased survived the initial accident for some period of time and lived with the pain associated with traumatic injuries, the valuations of pain and suffering can be large.
Wrongful Death Claims Require Skillful Legal Counsel
At the Law Offices of B. Clarke Nash, strong and aggressive legal counsel is available to you. It isn’t an office of case managers toiling behind a splashy television ad. With the Law Offices of B. Clarke Nash, you have a caring and compassionate advocate who can assist you in these most difficult times. A call to the office gets a quick and caring response – a response from Clarke himself. You can bet that the insurance company against you already knows how high the stakes are in a wrongful death action. Clarke once worked for the insurance companies; he knows how they operate and what motivates them. He has office availability throughout the state of Georgia, so contact the Law Offices of B. Clarke Nash, P.C., at (912) 200–5292, to schedule a consultation today.