In Georgia, there is a specific statute that covers wrongful death benefits. When a person dies due to the negligence of another person, the family members (usually the surviving spouse and children) are entitled to what’s known as wrongful death benefits. The benefits are basically determined by the value of the decedent’s life, which is broken down into two main parts. The first part is the economic loss, which is the amount of money they would have likely earned over the course of their remaining working life. This can be calculated with the assistance of an actuary, who will take into consideration the person’s occupation and what they would have likely earned over the following 10 or 25 years, depending on the decedents age.
The second portion of benefits is for the intangible value of the person’s life, which is a completely subjective standard left to be decided by a jury. If you ask five different juries the same question and give them the same set of facts, it’s almost guaranteed that each will provide a different number. However, the statute is written in a way that results in any life being assigned a very significant monetary value. Wrongful death benefits or wrongful death damages are often in the millions of dollars.
- Who is Entitled to Wrongful Death Damages?
The surviving family members are also entitled to receive compensation for funeral and burial costs. Separate claims can be brought on behalf of the estate, such as the medical bills related to the accident. If the negligent actor was found to have been driving under the influence or exhibiting behavior that’s deemed worthy of punitive damages, then a claim for punitive damages could be brought on behalf of the estate. When dealing with a wrongful death claim, it is important to have an attorney who has experience handling these types of claims in order to ensure that all potential damages are collected.
Who Can Legally Bring A Wrongful Death Lawsuit After A Fatal Car Accident?
In Georgia, a wrongful death claim is brought by the surviving spouse. The claim will be brought in the surviving spouse’s name, but the spouse will have a duty to collect and preserve benefits for the surviving children. If there is no surviving spouse, then the claim will be brought by the children; if there are no surviving children, then the claim will be brought by a surviving parent; if there are no surviving parents, then other relatives may be able to bring the claim.
How Is The Amount Of Damages Determined In A Wrongful Death Claim In Georgia? Does The Severity Of Injuries The Decedent Suffered Matter?
In the context of wrongful death benefits, the damages are calculated based on the value of the life of the decedent, which is broken down into two main parts. The first part is the economic loss, which is the amount of money they would have likely earned over the course of their remaining working life. This is based on how young they were at the time of their death, their occupation and income at the time of their death, and what they would have likely earned in the future. Economic estimations of this sort can be calculated by an actuary. This calculation is combined with the second part, which is the intangible value of the person’s life. The intangible value of a person’s life is a subjective matter that does not depend on the severity of the injuries.
In a wrongful death case, claims can also be brought on behalf of the estate, and these claims often depend on the severity of the injuries. The estate can bring a number of claims, including those for past medical bills, which can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is also compensation for emotional and physical pain and suffering. If it was a particularly gruesome accident that involved suffering by the person prior to their death, then damages could be granted to compensate the deceased for that through the estate. In addition, damages can be recovered for the fear the person experienced as they saw that they were facing impending death. This would go toward the emotional pain and suffering recovery and awarded to the estate.
If the at-fault party exhibited extremely reckless or intentional conduct that caused the person’s death, then a claim for punitive damages could be brought by the estate to punish the wrongdoer in an effort to dissuade that person and any like-minded individuals from exhibiting that type of behavior. Most often, punitive damages are seen in the context of DUI-related accidents or extremely reckless driving.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Wrongful Death Claims In Georgia?
Prior to making any decision about the statute of limitations that applies to your case, you should consult with an attorney. As a general rule, the individual bringing the case has two years from the date of the death to bring the case. For example, if the date of the actual accident was on the first of the month but the person passed away 25 days later, then the statute of limitations would begin on the 26th of that month—on the date of the actual death rather than the accident.
Under some circumstances, a statute of limitations may be tolled, which means that it would not start running for a period of time. For example, the statute of limitations may be tolled while the decedent’s estate is being set up. In cases involving government vehicles, the statute of limitations may be shorter than two years. In addition, special statutes of limitations in the form of ante litem notices could apply, which would require you to put the government on notice of potential litigation as early as six months from the date of the wreck, depending on the agency involved. In order to ensure that you do not miss the statute of limitations in your case, or overlook the requirement to notify the government in a timely manner, you must consult with an attorney. It is the only way to ensure that your wrongful death claim is handled properly and that you receive the maximum recovery possible.
For more information on Wrongful Death Claims In Georgia, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (912) 401-8880 today.