If your loved one has been killed due to the negligence of another person or company, you may have a wrongful death claim. First and foremost, we understand that you are hurting. In addition to your grief, you are likely faced with many legal worries related to funeral expenses, debts left behind, probate of the estate and financial support for the surviving children or spouse.
When you contact Athens Injury Law, we can help remove some of your worries by providing legal advice and guidance during this difficult time in your life. We have decades of experience helping family members maximize their recovery in wrongful death claims. You can trust our lawyers to provide you with the strong representation you deserve.
Who Can Bring A Wrongful Death Claim?
Generally, a spouse has the right to bring a wrongful death claim. If no spouse is available, then a child may bring the wrongful death claim (subject to the guidelines discussed below).
In Georgia, when a person is killed by the negligence of another, two potential claims arise:
- Wrongful death claim (for the value of the expected lifetime earnings and the intangible value of the lost life), and
- An estate claim (for medical expenses, funeral expenses, and any pre-death pain and suffering).
Generally, a living spouse has the right to bring a wrongful death claim. If the surviving spouse is unable or unwilling to bring the claim, then a surviving child or children may bring the wrongful death claim. If no surviving spouse or children are available, then a surviving parent may bring the wrongful death claim. If none of the above are available, the estate representative may have the right to bring the wrongful death claim.
The right to bring the estate claim vests in the court-appointed representative of the estate (called an “administrator” or “executor”).
Who Gets The Money Awarded For Wrongful Death Or The Estate Claim?
O.C.G.A. §51-4-2 sets out who gets the money awarded for a wrongful death claim. This money does not go into the estate of the deceased, and thus is not controlled by the decedent’s will. O.C.G.A. §51-12-2 requires the money to be split equally between the surviving spouse and all surviving children, with the one requirement that the spouse shall not get less than one-third. Importantly, this money is not subject to any debt left behind by the deceased.
For an estate claim, any money awarded goes into the estate and is controlled by the terms of the decedent’s will. If the deceased had no will, then the laws of intestacy control who gets the money. These laws typically require the spouse and children to share equally (subject to a few exceptions.)
Once Athens Injury Law is hired, we can coordinate both the estate claim and the wrongful death claim, and provide detailed guidance to your family to maximize your recovery for all claims due to the death.
What Qualifies As Wrongful Death?
Georgia law classifies a death as wrongful if it was caused by another person or business without legal justification.
The “wrongful act” that results in another person’s death may be caused by behavior that is any of the following:
- Negligent conduct
A wrongful death claim may be filed if the deceased person could file a personal injury lawsuit had he or she lived. A wrongful death claim is considered to be a personal injury case in which the injured person is no longer available to file a claim on his/her own behalf and their loved ones must bring the claim to court instead. Common scenarios leading to a wrongful death claim include auto accidents, dangerous property accidents, dog bites, deaths caused by defective products and more.
How Can Anyone Put A Financial Value On Human Life?
What is an injury claim worth? How can a value be placed on your loved one’s life? This is a really tough task. Under Georgia law, the jury is allowed to award the “full value of the life” including both the “economic losses” as well as the “intangible value” of life. There is no set formula for calculating the value of a human life. After hearing all the evidence in the case, the jurors are guided by “the enlightened conscious” of all the members of the jury. The jury’s verdict must be unanimous, so the ultimate award is likely to be the result of a compromise among the jurors.
We have helped many families with wrongful death claims. Mr. Hall and our trial team have decades of experience in this area. We can help remove many of the worries you may be facing. When you hire us, you will get personal and detailed attention from Mr. Hall and our entire trial team. We handle a low volume of cases – allowing us to spend time getting to know you and your family.
Contact Us Today For A Free Consultation
Give us a chance to listen to your story during a free, no-obligation meeting. Then, you can make the important decision about the right law firm to trust with your wrongful death case. Call 706-940-7889 or send us a message online to get started.