Losing a loved one because of the negligent, reckless or criminal actions of another person or entity can be an extremely traumatic event for the survivors. In fact, coping with the death of a loved one may be one of the hardest challenges that many of us face in our lifetime. The grief associated with the loss of a spouse, sibling or parent can be particularly intense. People are generally overcome by shock and confusion, leading to prolonged periods of sadness or fury knowing that someone is responsible you’re your loss. In the state of Georgia wrongful death is a cause of action created by statute to compensate the survivors of the deceased and to hold the person or entity responsible for the fatal accident liable.
Unlike personal injury cases there are two separate and distinct claims for wrongful death in the state of Georgia. In addition to the wrongful death claim itself, damages are recoverable by the estate of the deceased person as well. However, the value of a person’s life is measured from the perspective of the deceased person as opposed to that of the person’s family and friends. Although everyone knows that wrongful death claims originate due to the loss of a loved one, people know very little or nothing at all regarding the underlying legal claims. The 2 types of wrongful death claims in Georgia are:
Wrongful Death Claim
This claim allows for the recovery of the value of the life of the deceased person. The spouse or next of kin such as offspring, parents or siblings can bring such a claim.
An estate claim is filed by the estate of the deceased person. This particular claim is brought to recover the expenses of the estate such as burial and funeral costs along with any pain and suffering caused to the decedent.
The statutes in the state of Georgia have established a hierarchy of relatives that are permitted to bring a wrongful death claim. This system thus helps in avoiding multiple family members bringing identical claims simultaneously. The order of those people is as follows:
Spouse -The person with the primary right to bring a wrongful death claim is the spouse of the deceased. The spouse can bring the claim on behalf of themselves as well as any surviving children.
Children-In the absence of a spouse, it is the children who have the responsibility of bringing a wrongful death claim and filing suit.
Parent- In the absence of a spouse or children it is up to a surviving parent to bring the wrongful death claim.
Estate– In the event that the decedent does not have any family, then their estate will have the right to bring the wrongful death claim.
After the loss of a loved in in a wrongful death scenario, the first thing any family should do is to grieve properly. Humans are naturally resilient beings and most of us can endure loss and pain and then eventually move on with our own lives. However it is possible that some people struggle with grief for a long time and are unable to carry out daily activities. Such individuals may need the help of a psychologist or a licensed mental health professional specializing in dealing with grief issues. Although it is vital that any surviving family members properly grieve the loss of a loved one, it is also important to gather as much evidence as possible after the wrongful death.
Consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney like Boling Rice who is well versed in handling wrongful death claims is of utmost importance in order to ensure you get the justice that you deserve.