WRONGFUL DEATH BASICS
All states in the country now allow loved ones to bring wrongful death cases. But, each state has different laws applicable to wrongful death cases. Depending on the state, wrongful death cases may differ in terms of:
- Who can file the lawsuit
- How quickly the lawsuit must be filed
- What damages are available
- How a recovery is divided among relatives
In Georgia, the Wrongful Death Act states who may file a lawsuit:
- The spouse of the victim
- If there was no spouse, then the victim’s children,
- If there was no spouse or children, then the parents of the victim if they are alive
- If there was no spouse or children and the victim’s parents were deceased, then the administrator of the victim’s estate.
While other loved ones of the victim—siblings, uncles, aunts, and grandparents—may participate in certain ways in the lawsuit, they are not able to file the lawsuit itself.
Families in Georgia usually have just 2 years from the date of the victim’s death to file a lawsuit. There are certain factual situations that could extend the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit, but you need to speak to a knowledgable attorney to make sure you do not miss the deadline.
In a wrongful death case, you may recover “the full value of the life of the decedent without deducting for any of the necessary or personal expenses of the decedent had he lived.” O.C.G.A. 51-4-1. The “full value” of a person’s life includes everything about it—both the tangible and intangible. It is ultimately up to a jury to use their “enlightened conscience” and determine the amount.
In addition to the “wrongful death” claim for the full value of the victim’s life, the victim’s estate may be able to recover additional damages. The estate claim may seek damages for the victim’s pain and suffering while he was alive and for reimbursement of medical and funeral expenses. Punitive damages may also be available, depending on the specific facts of the case. Click here to read about what happens during a case.
Mike Rafi has fought for justice and maximum compensation on behalf of families who have lost loved ones. Mike tells all of his clients that he hopes one day he is out of business, because folks are not getting hurt or killed in Georgia or elsewhere. Call Mike so he can get justice for your loved one and hold the responsible parties accountable—your case may prevent another needless injury or death.