Dealing with the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult tasks that a family will ever experience. A wrongful death is defined as the loss of a life as result of another’s negligent or intentional behavior. Consequently, a wrongful death can occur from a violent car accident or even while staying at a hotel or apartment complex. While it is unfortunate that no amount of money will ever bring a deceased loved one back, Georgia Law provides a civil remedy for the survivors of someone that has suffered a death.
In Georgia, there can be two separate claims against a person or corporation who negligently causes a death. The family may choose to pursue one or both claims depending on the nature of the death.
The first type of claim is a wrongful death claim for the “full value of life” of the deceased individual. This claim is based upon both economic and intangible aspects of the individual’s life. Factors such as the quality of life, relationships, activities, lifetime income and future benefits are some of the many factors that are included in the valuation of a deceased individual’s life. This claim belongs to the deceased individual’s survivors, which is defined by statute as typically including a spouse, children, parents, or heirs at law.
The second type of claim belongs to the estate of the deceased individual. A “survival action” belongs to the estate and is brought by the executor or administrator of the deceased for pain and suffering before death, medical expense and funeral expense. This is essentially the claim that the deceased would have brought if he or she survived. The estate is acting in place of the deceased. Punitive damages, which serve as punishment for a particularly egregious behavior, may also be awarded in a survival action if the offending party broke the law during the act of wrongful death.
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the actions of another individual or corporation, we invite you to visit our office to discuss your options.