The state of Georgia defines wrongful death as the death of a person caused by the “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” acts of another person or entity (such as a business). Negligence is typically defined as a failure to use reasonable care when there is a duty to do so, resulting in harm to another.
How is a Wrongful Death Case Different?
Often times a wrongful death lawsuit and a personal injury lawsuit can be confused. Like a wrongful death case, a personal injury situation must prove negligence – a perfect example is that of a car accident. The difference is that in a standard personal injury claim, the claim is pursued by the injured victim. In a wrongful death claim, the matter must be presented by the family members of the deceased or a personal representative of that individual’s estate.
This can be a bit tricky because the spouse and children may need to be involved with the wrongful death claim. If the deceased person was married and had minor children the law states that the interests of both the spouse and the minor children must be represented. However if there is no spouse or minor children, the claim can be brought forward by:
- The surviving parent(s) of the deceased; or
- The personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate.
Once the damages are recovered, it is then held by the estate for the benefit of the deceased person’s next of kin (i.e. spouse, children, parents, etc.). In the state of Georgia there are two types of wrongful death lawsuits.
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Competing Wrongful Death Claims
The first is what is considered to “establish the full value of the life of the deceased.” This means that the surviving family members include monetary damages—both financial and intangible value of that life. Examples can be lost wages, benefits, loss of care, companionship and other intangible benefits that were provided by the deceased individual.
The second type of claim is meant to “remedy” the financial losses. This claim is brought forward on behalf of the deceased person’s estate and is meant to recover the losses the estate suffered due to the death. Examples can be medical expenses, injury, funeral and burial expenses and pain and suffering.
At Kaine Law, we have dealt with a number of wrongful death cases. We take pride in representing our clients with the upmost honesty and integrity, especially as they suffer the loss of a loved one. A wrongful death claim can be hard to understand and process, therefore we suggest you contact our office with any questions or concerns you may have in the event that you have unexpectedly lost a loved one.