Understanding Wrongful Death Claims
Under Georgia’s wrongful death statute, there are two separate claims that may be brought: the statutory wrongful death claim and the claim of the estate of the deceased. The former claim vests in the spouse of the victim, then in the children. Where the decedent is survived by both a spouse and children, the spouse generally controls and pursues the claim but must share the proceeds with the children. Where there is no spouse or child, the claim is vested in the parents of the deceased.
Georgia law provides that you are entitled to recover for the full economic value of your loved one’s life. While there is no amount of money that will adequately compensate you for the loss of your loved one, the law provides a mechanism by which you may recover for a lifetime of lost income. Plaintiffs typically establish the economic value of a person’s life through the presentation of expert testimony of economists and actuaries, based on the education, employment and earning potential of the deceased.
At Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP, our Gainesville, GA, wrongful death attorneys can associate an experienced economist to provide an opinion of the total loss of income resulting from the death of your family member. Additionally, Georgia law allows the jury to assign an intangible value to a person’s life, and a jury is virtually unlimited in the amount of funds it may award in connection with a wrongful death claim. Under many circumstances, you can seek an award of punitive damages in connection with a claim for wrongful death.
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Wrongful Death Attorneys in North Georgia
The second component of a wrongful death claim is the estate’s claim, which includes the costs associated with pain and suffering, funeral expenses and medical bills. In instances where the deceased survived for a certain period of time following the relevant accident, this claim can be a valuable tool to help your family maximize its recovery. In other circumstances, where the deceased individual’s estate lacks substantial value, it may be advantageous to forego any claim of the estate in order to avoid certain liens related to medical bills that could otherwise attach to the proceeds of your family’s settlement or verdict.
When evaluating a wrongful death claim, it is important to have an experienced wrongful death attorney who understands the intricacies of probate law to assist you in determining which claims should be asserted in an attempt to maximize your family’s recovery. Email our team or call us at 678-601-2495 to arrange a personal consultation.