Imagine that a Georgia father of 4 is killed by an 18-wheeler running a red light. What is the family to do? Who will pay to support his children now that he is gone? Georgia has laws to help the family.
This is an accidental death; however, the specific legal action is called “wrongful death.” It is a term that confuses many of my clients. Think of it this way: death is inevitable for all of us, but in this case, death came too early and was caused by another’s action who is breaking the law.
Georgia recognizes three claims you can make under wrongful death.
The first is a claim to establish the “full value of the life of the deceased.” In our example, this can include the wages and benefits that the father might have earned if he had lived plus compensation for loss of companionship and other intangible benefits that he provided as a husband and father.
The second kind of claim is one that is meant to cover expenses, as a result of the misconduct such as medical and funeral expenses.
The third is the claim made for the conscious pain and suffering incurred by the father before death. What he had to experience as his life passed before him, the pain and the hopelessness as he struggled to survive.
Georgia has a specific person who can bring a wrongful death claim. It starts with the spouse, who can represent any minor children. This might surprise you, but proceeds are not necessarily shared equally. State law says the spouse must receive at least 1/3 of the proceeds with the children dividing the remaining amount. This really comes into play when a second marriage is involved.
If there is no surviving spouse or child, the parents of the deceased can bring an action. Also under certain circumstances, the personal representative of the estate (who we use to call the executor) can pursue a lawsuit.
The action must be filed within two years of the wreck. But, the claim for conscious pain and suffering can be extended up to five years.
As you can see, Georgia is very specific on what can be done, by whom and when.
If you suffer a catastrophic injury or suffer a wrongful death, you can talk to us at the Hawk Law Group for free. 706-444-4444. We want to help. We are working remotely and in person but are always available.
Also, join us on News 12 LawCall here in Augusta every Sunday night at 11:30 right after the news. We are on tape during the COVID-19 epidemic but plan to be back live soon taking your questions.
GA Personal Injury Attorney