The untimely death of a loved one, friend or family, can be devastating to those left behind. The financial turmoil resulting from the loss of an income producing family member compounds the emotional devastation by the wrongful death. Generally, lawyers refer to a death caused by the negligence (carelessness) of another person as a wrongful death case. These wrongful death claims can be the result of just about any traumatic event, including but not limited to, a dog bite or animal attack, a car accident, a fall while on unkempt or unsafe premises, neglect or abuse of care in a nursing home or medical negligence by a nurse or doctor.
However, a wrongful death case is not your routine personal injury case. Wrongful Death cases are governed by Georgia law codified in; O.C.G.A. §51-4-1 through 51-4-5. Even with these codes as directives, a wrongful death case in Georgia can be complicated and confusing. They pose unique challenges and difficulties even for experienced lawyers.
Much of the confusion and difficulty to understand these claims comes from the fact that there are two distinct and unique claims arising out of the death of a loved one. Additionally, only specific set of identified people, or claimants, that has the standing or authority to bring forth a wrongful death case. The two types of wrongful claims are: 1) the traditional wrongful death claim; and 2) the estate of the deceased claim.
The Traditional Wrongful Death Claim – In Georgia, this claim is for the value of t
he life of the deceased taken by the negligence of another. O.C.G.A. 51-4-1 (1) (2010) defines this term as: “Full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence” means 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.
The Estate Claim – This claim can only be filed by the executrix of the estate on the behalf of the estate. The Estate claim is not for the value of the life of the deceased but instead it is for any expenses the Estate has incurred resulting from the injury and death, as well as pain and suffering of the deceased from the negligence and prior to death.
Do you feel like you have an appropriate wrongful death case? Give us a call, today (706) 940-4030!