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The Basics of a Wrongful Death Claim

The Law Office of George O. Haskell, IV Nov. 15, 2023

Did Negligence Play a Role in Your Loved One’s Death?

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or reckless behavior of another, you may have questions about how to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

At The Law Office of George O. Haskell, IV, in Macon, Georgia, we are here to explain the legal options available to you and help you pursue them to achieve compensation for your loss. To learn more, please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

When Does a Wrongful Death Claim Exist?

In Georgia, a claim for wrongful death exists when a death is caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another person or business.

Who Has the Right to Bring the Wrongful Death Claim?

The right to bring a wrongful death claim is governed by statute (See O.C.G.A. §§ 51-4-2, 19-7-1, and 51-4-5). If the deceased was married, the right to bring the wrongful death claim belongs to the surviving spouse. If the deceased had children, the surviving spouse must also act as a representative of the children and share any recovery or settlement proceeds with the children equally, per capita; however, the surviving spouse must at least receive one-third of the proceeds, regardless of the number of children.

If the deceased was divorced or if there is no surviving spouse, then the surviving children may be permitted to bring the wrongful death claim.

If there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children, then the wrongful death claim would ordinarily pass to the parents of the deceased. If there are no surviving spouse, no surviving children, and no surviving parents, then the wrongful death claim may be brought by the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate for the benefit of the next of kin. As your wrongful death lawyer, I can help you through these steps.

What Is the Measure of Damages?

Wrongful death claims provide for monetary damages equal to the “full value of the life of the deceased.” These damages would include the economic value or projected lifetime income of the deceased, as well as intangible elements such as enjoyment of life. Earning potential, life expectancy and quality of life are all important factors that must be considered when assessing damages in a wrongful death claim.

In addition to the wrongful death claim, the estate of the deceased would have a separate claim for pre-death medical expenses incurred as a result of the negligent conduct which ultimately caused the wrongful death, as well as conscious pain and suffering prior to the death and funeral expenses. This can result from a fatal car accident, a defective product, or an injury sustained on another’s property, such as a hotel. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your options.