Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney
At Sawyer Injury Law, we have worked with individuals who have suffered the most severe and catastrophic injuries in vehicular collisions, construction accidents, and other tragic incidents. But worst of all is a fatal crash or fall that takes the life of a loved one. Family members left behind are often devastated by the fact that they lost a beloved member of the family merely because some driver wasn’t driving carefully or attentively or because a property owner failed to clean up a spill or fix a dangerous hazard before somebody got hurt.
Sadly, several people die every day in Georgia in motor vehicle accidents or due to another party’s negligence in some other way. Laws are in place to require safe streets, highways, and workplaces, but people ignore the rules and fatal accidents result. When these deaths occur, the best we can do is bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible party.
Through a successful wrongful death lawsuit, we can recover valuable compensation to make up for the financial loss and help families cope with the emotional turmoil of losing a valued member of the family. We can also hold responsible parties accountable for the damage they caused and, in some small way, get justice for the person who was lost.
Sawyer Injury Law is a Metro Atlanta personal injury law firm focusing exclusively on helping accident victims and their families recover compensation after a serious personal injury or wrongful death caused by another’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness.
If you’ve lost a family member due to another’s negligence or misconduct, an Atlanta wrongful death attorney can help.
What is Georgia’s Wrongful Death Law?
Georgia’s wrongful death law allows surviving family members to file a lawsuit against another party who caused the death of a family member through a negligent or intentional act. The persons authorized to bring a wrongful death claim in Georgia are as follows:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased
- If there is no surviving spouse, the children of the deceased
- If there is no surviving spouse or child, the parents of the deceased
- If there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent, then the administrator of the deceased’s estate can bring an action and recover damages for the benefit of the estate
If the deceased was a minor child, then the parents can bring a wrongful death claim, regardless of whether they are the biological or adoptive parents and regardless of whether the child was born to unmarried parents who had not legitimated the child. If the parents are unmarried or separated, either one or both parents can bring the action for their benefit.
The parents of an unborn baby who is killed can also bring a wrongful death action, provided the fetus has reached a certain stage of gestation. If a child is killed and there are no surviving parents, say in a vehicular collision that kills the parents and the child, then the estate administrator can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased child.
Damages and Compensation for Wrongful Death
Similar to proving a personal injury case, the plaintiffs in a wrongful death case must prove that the defendant breached a duty owed to the deceased and caused the death by their negligence. When it comes to determining damages, Georgia law says a successful plaintiff is entitled to compensation for the “full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence.”
What is the “Full Value of Life”?
The law explains “full value” means no deductions are made for any personal expenses the deceased would have made, but the law doesn’t elaborate any further about how to place a dollar amount on the “full value” of someone’s life. Generally accepted measures include the loss of future income the deceased would have earned or the value of contributions the deceased would have made to the household, which can be fairly and objectively measured in most instances.
A harder measure is computing other aspects of the “full value” of the person’s life, such as the companionship they provided to family members, including the guidance and advice of a parent, the consortium of a spouse, or the love of a child. These facets, too, are an essential component of the full value of a person’s life.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
Georgia law also allows the estate’s personal representative to recover for the funeral, burial, and other necessary expenses related to the death. This recovery goes to the estate and is distributed according to the terms of the deceased’s will or other testamentary documents or Georgia intestacy laws if the person died without a will.
Finally, the plaintiffs might also have a “survival” action they can bring against the defendant on behalf of the deceased, which is like a personal injury case that the accident victim could have pursued had they not been killed. Successful plaintiffs can recover hospital bills and other medical expenses paid as well as a value for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased between the time of injury and death.
Bringing a survival action and a wrongful death case together gives plaintiffs the maximum available compensation and holds the defendant as fully accountable as possible for the damage done.
Get the Help You Need After the Loss of a Loved One in Atlanta
Attorney Norman Sawyer knows what it takes to build a strong case that proves the other party’s negligence and liability, even when the accident victim is not available to provide information. At Sawyer Injury Law, we are also experienced in documenting and arguing for the full value of a claim.
If you have lost a loved one in a vehicular collision or other incident caused by another’s negligence in Metro Atlanta, contact us today at Sawyer Injury Law for a complimentary consultation.