Yes, if you are a legal beneficiary, you can sue for the loss of the deceased person’s income in a wrongful death action. Georgia law allows you to recover several types of financial losses as well as noneconomic damages. The facts of your situation will determine the amount of compensation you can pursue and collect. Every case is different.
Full Value of the Life
Georgia says that the legal beneficiaries can go after financial damages for, among other things, the “full value of the life” of the decedent. In Georgia, the full value of the life means the amount of money that the deceased person would likely have earned during the remainder of his lifetime except for his untimely death. Georgia is somewhat unique in that we do not deduct the living expenses the deceased would have had to spend during his lifetime.
For example, if the person who died made $70,000 a year and was likely to have worked another 40 years, the loss of income would total $2,800,000 in a Georgia wrongful death case. In a state that deducts living expenses, the legal beneficiaries would recover much less. If the judge in one of those states deducted $50,000 a year in living expenses, leaving only $20,000 a year, the survivors would only receive $800,000 for the loss of the deceased’s income in a wrongful death claim.
Damages in Wrongful Death Cases in Georgia
The worth of a human life is much more than merely a paycheck. Georgia courts can award additional damages in wrongful death cases. When your spouse dies prematurely, you lose the opportunity to grow old together, see your children marry and have their own children, attend other life events together, and enjoy each other’s companionship.
Your children lose the advice and guidance of a parent who dies too soon. Your kids will not be able to enjoy any more memories of spending holidays and special events together or experience everyday bonding with a parent who dies. Georgia law allows you to add these losses to your claim for compensation.
Loss of Services
In addition, you have lost the value of the services that your loved one provided to the family. For example, if your spouse did the cooking or cleaning, mowed the lawn, or transported the kids to school and their activities, you will either have to take on that extra work yourself or pay someone else to do those things.
How to Prove Liability in Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
Before you can collect money damages for your losses, you have to convince the judge that the defendant (the person you sue) did something wrong that caused the untimely death of your loved one. Most wrongful death claims have their basis in negligence; in other words, an allegation that the carelessness of the defendant caused the harm.
We have to prove all four of these elements to hold the defendant liable and be able to sue for the loss of the deceased’s income in a wrongful death claim:
- Duty. The defendant must have owed the decedent a duty of care. Let us say that the death was the result of a pedestrian accident. Everyone who operates a motor vehicle on public roads has a legal duty to drive with caution and obey the traffic laws.
- Breach. When someone breaches a legal duty, it is negligence. In our hypothetical, the driver was speeding through a crowded downtown area of Atlanta. Driving too fast for the conditions is negligence.
- Causation. The negligent conduct must be the thing that caused the fatal injury. Because the defendant was speeding through an area with a lot of foot traffic, he was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian who was crossing the street legally. The negligent act of driving too fast caused the fatal collision with the walker.
- Measurable damages. There must be quantifiable damages to proceed with a claim for money damages for negligence. Physical injuries qualify as measurable harm and satisfy this requirement.
Once we present evidence that establishes all four of these factors, we can go after compensation for your losses.
Getting Legal Help for a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia
At S. Burke Law, we understand that you are going through a rough time after the loss of your loved one. If your close relative died because of someone else’s mistake, we can help. You need an attorney who will treat you with dignity and compassion who can help you sue for loss of deceased’s income in a wrongful death claim.
We treat our clients like family. We will work hard to get you and your family all the compensation that you deserve. Call us today at (404) 842-7838 for a free consultation.