When a person is killed because of the negligence of another, the impact to the surviving family members can be devastating. In addition to the grief and loss of companionship/love caused by the loss of a loved one (husband, wife, father, mother), there are frequently medical and funeral bills that must be paid. Sometimes the person who was killed was the sole breadwinner for the family. In all cases, the surviving family members will have both “economic” (monetary) and “non-economic” (non-monetary) losses.
Wrongful death claims allow certain individuals (i.e., family members who qualify under the law) to recover for the losses they’ve sustained from the death of a loved one.
In today’s post we will give a brief introduction to what wrongful death claims are and how they work.
What is Meant by Wrongful Death?
In law, a “wrongful death” claim or action refers to a lawsuit. Wrongful death actions are filed when a person is killed because of the negligence, recklessness, or even intentional wrongdoing of another. A person’s “wrongful death” can come about in any number of ways. For example, a wrongful death can be caused by:
- A car, truck, or motorcycle accident
- Workplace accidents
- Elder nursing home abuse
- Medical malpractice
- Dangerous property conditions
- Intentional criminal conduct (e.g., bar fights; shootings; homicide)
The above are merely examples. There are many other ways one person’s negligent, reckless or intentional conduct can cause the wrongful death of another person. The point is, however, that the death cannot be the result of natural causes. It must be connected to the wrongdoing of another.
A wrongful death action allows family members to pursue a personal injury claim on behalf of their loved one.
Who Can Bring a Claim for Wrongful Death?
In addition to the way in which a person’s death was caused, there are other specific rules that apply to wrongful death claims. Chief among them are the fact that not just anyone can bring a wrongful death action. Wrongful death claims are generally limited to the surviving family members.
Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim, however.
In Georgia, the state’s wrongful death statute (the Wrongful Death Act) specifies exactly who can bring a wrongful death claim. It allows the family of the person who died to file a claim for “the full value of the life of the decedent.” Generally speaking, if the deceased person was married, the surviving wife or husband can bring a claim. If there is no surviving spouse, then any surviving children may bring the claim. If the person did not have a spouse or children when he died (for example, cases involving the death of a child) then the parents or guardians can bring the claim.
What is meant by “the full value of the life” and how much can be recovered, will change in every case. The person’s “full value of life” is measured from the point of view of the person who died.
In Georgia, qualifying family members may recover for the value of the person’s life as well as for other things such as the cost of medical bills or pain and suffering related to the incident causing his or her death.
When someone is taken from you—especially when it is due to the negligence, recklessness or intentional wrongdoing of another —nothing can make up for your loss. But a wrongful death action can at least seek justice for your loved one.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Cumming, Georgia.
The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., are here to help you. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in a number of counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.