Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions
- Page 1
What Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Do?
A wrongful death lawyer can help the surviving loved ones or the estate of the deceased person bring a lawsuit against the party responsible for the death of a spouse, child, or parent if the death was from someone else’s negligence or intentional act. The attorney can evaluate the facts, determine who is liable, collect the evidence, and litigate the case.
Identify Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case
The decedent’s estate, through the personal representative, can file a lawsuit for wrongful death in Georgia. The surviving spouse of a deceased adult can bring legal action. Any child of the adult decedent can sue for wrongful death if there is no surviving spouse.
When a child dies, the child’s surviving spouse or child has the first priority for filing a lawsuit for wrongful death. If the deceased child left behind no spouse or children, the decedent’s parents can bring the case. In the event of no such survivors, a personal representative or the executor or administrator of the estate can file the lawsuit.
You do not have to figure out these legal issues. We can talk with you and let you know who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in your situation.
Gather the Evidence to Prove Your Case
Your wrongful death lawyer will collect the accident report, medical records, and any other relevant information to build your case. We can also talk with witnesses and hire experts, if appropriate.
File and Handle the Lawsuit
Filing lawsuits can be tricky, and with so much at stake in a wrongful death case, you might want to have a professional on board. Your wrongful death lawyer can prepare the documents, arrange for service on the defendants, file the initial pleadings with the court, and handle the lawsuit.
What We Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Case
We have to prove all four of these elements to hold someone responsible for the wrongful death of your loved one:
Duty of care. The defendant must have had a legal duty toward the decedent. Let’s say that the defendant was driving while intoxicated when he hit and killed a pedestrian. All drivers have a duty to follow the laws when operating motor vehicles, including being sober and cautious.
Breach of duty of care. When a person fails to satisfy the duty of care, it is negligence. Driving drunk is negligence.
Causation. The negligence must be what caused the death of the decedent. Driving while above the legal limit for blood alcohol caused the defendant to crash into the pedestrian, killing him, so this fact pattern meets the causation element.
Measurable damages. Loss of the financial support or services of the decedent are examples of measurable damages that the beneficiaries of the wrongful death lawsuit can experience. If the deceased pedestrian was the mother of a young child, that child has lost the support and services of her mother.
A wrongful death attorney will investigate the case and gather the evidence to show that the claim satisfies all four required elements of liability.
Identify & Pursue Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
Personal representative. The personal representative of the decedent can request an award of damages that includes the expenses, like medical bills for the fatal injury and the funeral and burial costs.
The personal representative stands in the shoes of the deceased person and can seek the financial losses of the death, as well as any other claims the decedent would have if he had survived the injury.
Surviving loved ones. The surviving loved ones can seek damages for the “full value of the life” of the decedent, which can include economic losses, like the total income he would have earned during his lifetime. Georgia law does not reduce the income by the living expenses the deceased person would have incurred. The survivors can also seek compensation for the loss of companionship and other non-economic losses.
How to Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Sometimes a family suspects that someone else’s carelessness or intentional act robbed them of their loved one. In these tragic situations, you can talk with a lawyer who will treat you and your family with respect and dignity.
We will not charge to talk with you and let you know if you might be eligible for compensation. Please call us today at 404-474-0804, so that we can arrange your free consultation. There is no obligation.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Divided?
If your loved one died because of the negligent or intentional act of another person, you and some other people may be entitled to some compensation. The question is, once you settle a wrongful death claim, how does Georgia law divide the settlement proceeds among the relatives and loved ones of the decedent?
You need to know what to expect if you find yourself in this situation. Sometimes another person can have priority over you and eliminate your right to compensation, but in other cases, you may get compensation instead of someone else.
The priorities for distribution of settlement proceeds will depend on the facts of your case. Also, the rules are different if the decedent was a child as opposed to an adult.
How Georgia Law Distributes the Recovery for the Wrongful Death of an Adult
When an adult dies because of the wrongful act of someone else, whether negligent or intentional, the surviving loved ones may have a right to compensation.
Suppose Joyce died in a car crash that was the result of another driver’s negligence. Joyce left behind her husband, Tom, and their children, Charlie and Maggie.
In the wrongful death lawsuit, the insurance company for the at-fault driver offered one million dollars. Tom, as the surviving spouse, has the right to accept this settlement without the consent of the children or the approval of the court. The distribution will be as follows:
- The surviving spouse, Tom, will get at least $333,333 as the spouse’s share. The spouse’s share is one-third of the total recovery.
- Tom will have to divide the $1,000,000 equally with Charlie and Maggie, up to the point at which Tom still gets his spousal share. If there were no surviving children, Tom would receive the entire $1,000,000. With one surviving child, Tom and the child would each receive $500,000. If there are three or more children, Tom will get $333,333, and the children would equally divide the $666,667.
- A guardian will have to hold in trust any child’s recovery that is $15,000 or more if that child is under the age of majority.
- Children born out of wedlock get to receive a share of the recovery the same as children born in marriage.
- Grandchildren of the decedent can also receive part of the recovery, but they do not necessarily share equally with the others.
- The debts and liabilities of the decedent will not reduce the amount of recovery in a wrongful death claim.
Distribution of Wrongful Death Proceeds for the Homicide of a Child
The priorities are different for the death of a child. A surviving spouse or child of the decedent can bring an action to recover for the full value of the life of the child. If the deceased child left no surviving spouse or children, the parent or parents of the child can file the lawsuit.
Georgia law imposes these rules on parents who pursue wrongful death claims for the homicide of a child:
- If only one parent is alive, the surviving parent has the right to receive the entire recovery.
- If both parents are alive, the parents can recover the proceeds of the settlement jointly.
- Both parents have the right to recovery if they are divorced, separated, or living apart.
- If one such parent (divorced, separated, or living apart) refuses to participate in the claim or the other parent cannot find this parent, the parent who wants to proceed can go forward with the action. In cases like this, the settlement is binding on both parents.
- These parents will share the proceeds equally unless one parent is absent or the parent who brought the action files a motion requesting a different distribution.
- In the situation of an absent parent, the court will hold that parent’s share for two years, after which time the other parent can petition the court to release those funds to the parent who initiated the action.
- A parent can ask the court to apportion the proceeds in a fair manner (rather than equally) to account for each parent’s relationship with the child including the permanent custody, control, support of the child, and other relevant factors.
How to Get Help for a Wrongful Death Case in Georgia
Do not worry about these rules – we can explain them to you personally. We can talk with you about the facts of your case and analyze who may benefit from a wrongful death settlement and how Georgia law will distribute the proceeds. Call 404-474-0804 today to schedule a free consultation.
Does a Personal Injury Case Survive Death?
The survivors (close loved ones) of a victim in a personal injury case can pursue personal injury damages through either a wrongful death or a survival action in Georgia after the injured person dies. There are, however, limitations of each type of action.
Survival Actions in Georgia
If Georgia did not have a survival of actions statute, the right to sue and recover damages for personal injury could disappear when the person who suffered harm dies.
Suppose a perpetrator is abusing the elderly in nursing homes in a state that does not allow survival of actions for personal injury. If the aged abuse victim dies before receiving compensation, the court would have to dismiss the action, and the abuser would not have to pay for his misdeeds.
Because Georgia allows a personal injury cause of action to survive the death of the harmed person, the survivors of the decedent can continue the lawsuit. If there is no one with the right of survivorship, the personal representative of the deceased person can pursue the action. Survival of actions law also applies to injuries and deaths from criminal behavior.
Wrongful Death Actions in Georgia
Georgia law allows wrongful death lawsuits when the decedent died because of someone else’s criminal conduct. So, if the negligence caused a death, a wrongful death lawsuit might be the best course. There are differences, however, in the kind of damages you can recover in survival and wrongful death cases. In a wrongful death case, the survivors can recover for the “full value of the life of the decedent.”
It is impossible to put a dollar amount on a person’s life, but the law attempts to provide a yardstick for compensation for the surviving loved ones. One aspect of the full value is how much money we can reasonably expect the decedent would have earned if he had lived a typical number of years.
Example of the value of a person’s life: if the deceased person died at age 40 due to someone else’s negligence, he likely would have worked another 25 years or longer. If he earned $80,000 a year, the income would have totaled $2,000,000 without including raises in salary over the years. We can use a vocational expert to explain to the court the reasonable amount of money the deceased would have earned if he had lived. The law does not subtract the living expenses the decedent would have incurred if he had not died.
In addition to income, the personal representative can also recover the medical, funeral, and burial expenses of the decedent that resulted from the injury and death. The courts can also put a dollar value on the services a person performs for the family, like housekeeping and yard work.
The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for shockingly unacceptable behavior and to deter others from similar actions.
For an award of punitive damages, the plaintiff must convince the court that when the defendant harmed the plaintiff, the defendant acted:
- Intentionally or
- Without caring about how his actions injured others.
What Happens When the Negligent Person Dies
Do not assume that you have no legal remedy if the negligent person who harmed you or killed a loved one also dies. The rule in Georgia about personal injury claims surviving death includes the death of the at-fault person.
We can sue the personal representative for the same damages that we could have sought against the negligent person if she had not died, except in this situation, we cannot go after punitive damages. This law also applies to injuries and deaths that involved criminal activity.
How to Get Help for a Wrongful Death or Survival Action
You do not have to figure out whether a wrongful death or survival action is the best legal remedy for you and your family. Call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, and we will talk with you about your situation at no charge and no obligation. You can contact us at 404-474-0804, to set up your free consultation. We will sort out which type of lawsuit is appropriate and will not charge any legal fees until you recover compensation.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Claim?
If your loved one died because of another party’s negligence or intentional act, you may be able to take legal action for wrongful death. A claim or lawsuit for wrongful death must meet the criteria to hold a defendant liable for the deceased’s death.
Criteria That Constitute a Wrongful Death Case
For example, let’s say your loved one died in a car accident when another driver ran a red light and struck her vehicle. There are four steps to evaluating whether the law will hold the other driver responsible for her death.
- Duty of care. The defendant had a duty to drive his vehicle in a safe manner and obey all traffic laws.
- Breach of duty of care. The defendant breached his duty of care by running a red light, which violated traffic laws and put other drivers at risk of harm. Breach of duty is negligence.
- Causation. The defendant’s negligence must have caused the fatal injury. If your loved one died from injuries sustained in the accident caused by the defendant running the red light, it establishes a connection between the defendant’s negligence and your loved one’s death.
- Damages. The beneficiaries of the wrongful death lawsuit must have suffered damages, such as funeral costs, medical bills, and loss of financial support or services of the decedent.
After we establish that the defendant is liable for the death of your loved one, we can evaluate who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and what damages they can seek.
Types of Accidents That Constitute a Wrongful Death Case
Any accident caused by a negligent party that leads to the death of another person may qualify for a wrongful death case. Here are some common types of accidents that may constitute a wrongful death case if the victim passes away:
- Car Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Truck Accidents
- Accidents on Another Party’s Property
- Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
An attorney at the Law Offices of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. can evaluate your case and help you take action against the party responsible for your loved one’s death. Call us at 404-474-0804.
Getting Compensation for Damages in a Wrongful Death Action
The personal representative of the deceased person can file a wrongful death claim to seek and recover wrongful death damages.
Full Value of the Life
Georgia law allows the deceased person’s loved ones to seek damages for the full value of the decedent’s life, to recover what they lost with the passing of the decedent.
The “full value of the life” means both the economic losses like the income he would have earned with a typical life expectancy and non-economic losses, like the loss of companionship. Georgia does not reduce potential future income by the living expenses the decedent would have incurred.
Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost lifetime earning potential
- Loss of love and affection
- Loss of parental guidance
The personal representative of the estate can pursue these damages because the personal representative’s job is to manage the decedent’s assets, including restoring to the estate assets that would be part of the estate but for the wrongful actions of the defendant.
Loved ones (e.g., spouse and children of the deceased) are beneficiaries of the estate, and, generally, ultimately will receive the compensation recovered in the wrongful death action.
Talk to a lawyer at our firm about the value of a wrongful death settlement for your case.
How to Get Help with a Wrongful Death Claim
If your loved one died in an accident, the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C., can help you take legal action against the liable party or parties. Our team can help you prove liability and establish the value of your wrongful death case.
There is no charge for the consultation, and there is no obligation. We do not charge attorney fees until you recover compensation. Please call us today at 404-474-0804 for your free consultation.
What is a wrongful death settlement worth?
Every wrongful death settlement is different. The amount of compensation you can recover for the wrongful death of a loved one will depend on the details of your particular case.
What is the standard for compensation in a wrongful death case in Georgia?
While there is no specific standard, the purpose of wrongful death damages in Georgia is to compensate for the “full value” of the decedent's life.
What does "full value of the life" mean?
Per Georgia Code § 51-4-1, full value of the life 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.” Essentially, it is the contributions — both economic and noneconomic — the decedent would have made.
Full value includes both economic and noneconomic losses. This means that if a surviving family member or personal representative brings an action, that party can recover compensation for:
- Medical bills, funeral, and burial expenses
- Any other necessary expenses
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of employment benefits
- Lost support and services (e.g., childcare)
- Pain and suffering the decedent experienced from the time of the injury until death
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of advice and counsel
- Loss of care
The “full value” of one person’s life can vary significantly from that of someone else.
Why is the “full value of the life” different from one person to another?
While it is difficult to put a monetary value on a life, the courts must do so to determine how much you can receive for that death. This value rests on the contributions the decedent made and how the death will affect survivors.
If, for example, a person works part time at a minimum wage job, that person will not contribute financially to the family as much as an individual who earns six figures. The more a person makes, the greater the financial loss to the household if the individual dies before his time.
However, it is important to remember that the full value does not only consider the economic contributions your loved one made. We always ensure a settlement includes the value of your loved one’s advice and counsel, companionship, and taking care of the household, as well as other intangible losses, in addition to the amount of money he earned.
Is it possible to recover punitive damages in a Georgia wrongful death claim?
Yes. If you can show that the wrongdoer acted intentionally or with conscious disregard for the consequences of his actions, the court may award punitive damages.
Call Jason R. Schultz for help with your wrongful death case.
Damages in wrongful death cases are different from other personal injury claims. Talk with Georgia wrongful death lawyer, Jason R. Schultz, for guidance on how to recover the compensation you need to live the best possible life after this tragedy in your family. You can call us at any time. We will always treat you with compassion and sensitivity. Set up your free consultation by calling 404-474-0804 today.
Before our meeting, feel free to check out our wrongful death checklist to keep everything organized during this very trying time in your life.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia?
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia depends on whether the person who died is a child or an adult.
When a child dies, who can file a wrongful death action in Georgia?
When a child dies from something other than natural causes, Georgia law provides guidance on who has the legal authority to sue for the wrongful death. The people entitled to bring a wrongful death action for the passing of a child are:
- The deceased party’s spouse
- The parents/legal guardian of the deceased child
- If there are no surviving parents of the deceased child, then the administrator or executor of the estate of the deceased child or his personal representative
Does it matter if the parents are living together?
No. If the parents are divorced, separated, or living apart, both parents have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If one of these parents is absent or refuses to go forward with the action, the other parent can file the lawsuit alone.
Note: If one parent has abandoned or failed to provide support to the child, he may be unable to bring a claim.
Who has the right to sue for the wrongful death of an adult?
The following parties have the right to file suit for the wrongful death of an adult:
- A surviving spouse (the primarily eligible party)
- A child of the deceased person.
- Parents (only if there is no surviving spouse or children, or if the spouse is the alleged negligent party)
- Personal representative
What can I recover in a Georgia wrongful death suit?
What you can recover depends on your relationship to the deceased.
If you are a spouse, child, or parent of the deceased, the damages are the full value of the life of the deceased. If you are a personal representative of the deceased, the damages available include medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and all other necessary expenses that arose from the injury and death.
Who are the possible beneficiaries of a wrongful death action?
In a claim for the passing of a child, the surviving spouse or parents of the deceased child can be the beneficiaries. In cases where the parents are the beneficiaries, they both split the award, but the court can order a different distribution. If an absent parent does not appear within two years, the court can award that person’s share to the parent who brought the action.
If one parent abandoned the child or failed to provide support, he may be unable to recover from the award.
In a claim for the death of an adult, the surviving spouse and children can be the beneficiaries. Also, the estate can be the beneficiary, if the administrator or executor of the estate or the personal representative of the deceased adult brings an action.
Call Jason R. Schultz for help filing a wrongful death claim.
If a member of your immediate family has died due to a negligent or intentional act, call on Georgia wrongful death attorney Jason R. Schultz for help. Before our meeting, feel free to read through our wrongful death checklist for more information about the process you can expect to go through.
Set up your free consultation today: 404-474-0804.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?
What is the purpose of damages in a wrongful death claim?
Wrongful death damages offer compensation to loved ones for the full value of the decedent’s life. Any living expenses the decedent would have had if he had lived do not reduce this amount.
It is impossible to put a price on the value of a person’s life. While no amount of money can stop the suffering when a life ends because of a wrongful act, the courts have developed standard approaches to calculate how much compensation the survivors should receive. For help with your wrongful death claim, contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC today at 404-474-0804.
What are economic and non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim?
Economic and non-economic damages are the two types of compensatory damages available in a wrongful death claim. These damages offer compensation to the decedent’s loved ones so they can recover.
Economic damages can include:
- Medical bills from the injury or illness until death;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Loss of income and future financial support; and
- Loss of services within the family, such as housekeeping, raising the children, and maintaining the house and yard.
Non-economic damages may involve:
- The decedent’s physical and mental pain and suffering from the time of the injury or illness until the moment of death;
- Mental anguish of the survivors;
- Loss of companionship; and
- Loss of a parent or child’s society, advice, and counsel.
Can I get interest on my wrongful death claim?
All judgments in Georgia carry interest at the Federal Reserve prime rate plus 3%, until paid. Post-judgment interest is automatic, so the judgment does not have to specifically mention interest.
It is also possible to get pre-judgment interest. If, on your behalf, we make a written offer by registered or certified mail with a demand for your unliquidated damages and the court awards an amount of damages equal to or greater than the amount of the demand, you are eligible for pre-judgment interest if the wrongdoer does not pay within 30 days. Pre-judgment interest is the same amount as post-judgment interest—prime rate plus 3%.
What are punitive damages?
Georgia law provides that punitive damages, also known as vindictive or exemplary damages, may be appropriate when there are aggravating circumstances in a wrongful death case. Courts do not order these damages as compensation to the injured party. Instead, punitive damages are strictly to punish, penalize, or deter the wrongdoer. With that in mind, the courts place certain limitations on the amount of punitive damages recoverable in some wrongful death actions.
To prove that punitive damages are appropriate, we must prove that the wrongdoer’s actions showed:
- Willful misconduct;
- Oppression; or
- An indifference to the consequences of their actions.
Depending on the specifics of your case, a portion of any punitive damages the courts award may go toward the state. If a defective product caused the wrongful death, for example, 75% of the punitive damages—minus the litigation costs and attorney fees—will go to the treasury of the state of Georgia.
How can I prove the damages in my wrongful death claim?
While making arrangements after the death of your loved one, keep in mind that your wrongful death claim will require evidence to prove. For help gathering this evidence, contact our wrongful death lawyers as soon as possible.
An autopsy may be necessary to prove a link between your loved one’s death and the wrongful act. An autopsy can provide essential evidence to prove wrongful death, while ruling out other medical conditions or events the negligent party may claim were the cause of death. If your loved one died as a result of medical malpractice, we recommend scheduling an independent autopsy, rather than relying on the hospital’s autopsy.
Police reports can provide evidence in wrongful death cases that arise out of motor vehicle accidents or violent acts. We can use expert witnesses to prove causation in wrongful death cases involving defective products, hazardous conditions, or toxic substances.
Employment records will give the data we need to calculate the decedent’s lost income and to extrapolate the loss of future earnings. Expert witnesses often prepare reports and testify on income and earning damages.
We can also use bills from the doctors, hospital, and pharmacy to establish the cost of medical expenses, while statements from the funeral home will show the funeral and burial expenses.
Note that only medical bills relating to final illness or injury are recoverable as damages in a wrongful death action. You cannot recover for medical bills for a condition the decedent had before the wrongful act occurred.
At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, we can help.
The wrongful death attorneys at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC will show you the compassion and respect you deserve. We will discuss how the tragic loss of your loved one has impacted you and your family and evaluate your claim for damages. Call us today at 404-474-0804 for your free consultation.
My husband died while in the hospital and I suspect plastic surgery errors. How do I know if I have a wrongful death case?
In order to pursue a wrongful death case for plastic surgery errors, there must be evidence that the hospital and/or its staff members were responsible for a loved one’s death. Another way of looking at it is the loss of life could have been prevented had it not been for the negligent actions, such as surgeon mistakes.
Given the various inherent risks of surgeries, it can be challenging to prove that medical malpractice was the cause of death in some cases.
Plastic surgery malpractice cases necessitate help from a Georgia medical malpractice lawyer in Atlanta who can:
- work with medical experts;
- collect evidence; and
- help with the medical malpractice claims process.
Proving Negligence Related to Surgeon Mistakes in a Wrongful Death Case
One of the factors that must be established in this type of case is that a surgeon’s mistake caused the patient to lose his/her life. A bad outcome in itself doesn’t necessarily mean a claim can be filed. But when it was preventable and it was caused by carelessness, then it may.
For instance, examples of negligence include if a patient is given a lethal overdose of anesthesia during the procedure or a surgeon accidentally cuts a vital organ while working on a different area of the body. In addition to plastic surgery errors, if a hospital’s conditions are unsanitary, which causes the patient to develop a fatal infection after surgery, it may also be considered negligent.
Not all cases will be clear-cut. But if there is a suspicion that the care received before, during or after the procedure was inadequate, it would be worthwhile to talk to a Georgia medical malpractice lawyer in Atlanta.
Finally, a family member would need to prove that because of the wrongful death, damages have been suffered.
Generally those who can receive wrongful death compensation include relatives such as:
- children; and
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim Stemming from a Surgeon’s Mistakes
When damages are awarded, it is based on what is fair and just. This includes both economic and noneconomic damages. Those that are economic have a specific value. For instance, the medical expenses incurred stemming from the injury or illness that resulted in the loved one’s death. Reasonable costs for a funeral may also be addressed. Surviving family members who depended financially upon the deceased may also be entitled to damages that address lost earnings.
Noneconomic damages stem from the psychological impact of losing a loved one:
- emotional distress;
- pain and suffering;
- grief; and
- loss of companionship.
It should be noted that in the state of Georgia, noneconomic damage caps are listed as $350,000 in the state statutes, but the State Supreme Court declared the cap unconstitutional in 2010.
Get Legal Help: Consult a Georgia Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Atlanta
Jason Schultz in Georgia is a medical malpractice lawyer who can assist Atlanta families of patients who died while in a hospital to receive plastic surgery. Errors on behalf of the surgeons and medical professionals may be considered negligent and a lawyer can help establish it through proper evidence.
Who can file a wrongful death claim for the death of a child in Georgia?
The following people have the right to file an action for the wrongful death of a child:
- First priority: Surviving spouse of the deceased child
- Second priority: Surviving child of the deceased child
- Third priority: Surviving parents of the deceased child
How can a deceased child have a surviving spouse or surviving child?
As with adults who die due to another party’s negligence or intentional actions, the spouse is the first party eligible to file for compensation. If there is no spouse, any living children are eligible to file.
While it is uncommon for a minor to have a spouse, in Georgia, 16- and 17-year-olds can get married with parental permission. This means that if a teen dies, he might leave behind a spouse or a child. If so, that surviving spouse or child has the legal right in Georgia to bring a claim against someone who wrongfully took the life of the decedent.
When do parents have a right to bring a claim for the wrongful death of a child?
A surviving parent can only pursue an action for the wrongful death of a child if the deceased child:
- Was not married
- Did not leave any surviving children
When do parents not have the right to bring a claim for the wrongful death of a child?
The deceased child’s parents cannot bring a claim if:
- The child had a spouse
- The child had a child
Also, the court can bar parents from pursuing a claim for wrongful death if they abandoned or failed to support the child.
Must both parents agree on bringing a claim for the wrongful death of a child?
No. If one parent refuses to bring a wrongful death claim, the other parent can still go forward with the action. The results will be binding on the parent who declined to participate.
How do the courts distribute the proceeds of a wrongful death claim between parents?
The general rule is that surviving parents will share the proceeds of the wrongful death claim equally, but this can change based on the circumstances. One parent can file a motion with the court for an unequal distribution of the proceeds.
After the conclusion of the wrongful death action, the judge will hold a separate hearing to determine what percentage of the recovery will go to each parent. The judge will decide what is fair, in light of these factors:
- The relationship each parent had with the deceased child,
- Each parent’s involvement in the permanent custody, control, and support of the deceased child, and
- Any other relevant factors
What happens if one parent is absent?
If one parent is absent, the court will allow the present parent to file a claim for the wrongful death of the child.
The court will set aside half of the recovery for the absent parent. After two years, the court can give the absent parent’s portion to the present parent.
Note: It is completely irrelevant whether the deceased child was born in or out of wedlock.
How do courts determine the damages in a claim for the wrongful death of a child?
Regardless of the age of the person who died, the damages for wrongful death in Georgia are equal to the “full value of the life of the decedent.”
Georgia courts interpret this as the total amount of money a person would have earned during an expected lifetime and the value of relationships and companionship. There is no deduction for the living expenses the deceased person would have incurred.
Call Jason R. Schultz for help with your wrongful death claim.
The wrongful death of a child is a tragedy. At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C., we will treat you and your family with dignity, respect, and compassion as we work to recover all the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 404-474-0804 to set up your free consultation.
- First priority: Surviving spouse of the deceased child
Can I file a Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit if my spouse died and I believe the death was caused by a doctor or hospital's negligence?
Yes, you can file a Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit if your spouse died and you think the death was caused by a doctor or hospital's negligence. When your loved one was the victim of medical malpractice, a Villa Rica medical malpractice attorney should be your first step to justice.
Your case would involve a wrongful death claim, which has to be filed by "real parties in interest," which include:
- the spouse of the deceased:
- (in some states) immediate relatives;
- (in some states) dependents; and
- (in some states) life partners.
As the spouse, you can request both non-economic and economic damages. You might also be entitled to legal costs and interest on funds used to pursue a legal case. To get a thorough understanding of what you would be entitled to in the state of Georgia, you should speak with your attorney.
There's a good chance that punitive damages could be awarded in your case, depending on whether your spouse died as a result of failure to treat or diagnose. The purpose of punitive damages is to send a message that such negligence will not be tolerated.
Being the surviving party, you know how overwhelming the grieving process can be. However, in cases involving a wrongful death, you will have to be aggressive and take active steps demanding answers regarding the circumstances of your spouse's death.
If you become a victim in Villa Rica of medical malpractice, an attorney can conduct a thorough investigation to get your questions answered and help you find some sense of closure. It would be in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible to get started on a Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit.
Need help in Villa Rica for Medical Malpractice? Call an Attorney
As the victim of Georgia medical malpractice, you have rights that the insurance companies cannot ignore. While they have a team of lawyers working on their side, shouldn't you have experienced legal representation fighting for your best interests? Before accepting any settlement offer, contact the Law Offices of Jason Schultz to schedule a FREE consultation on your case - 404-474-0804.