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Questions and answers about Georgia wrongful death suits

The death of a loved one can turn your life upside down. The pain is often made worse by the deep, complicated money problems the family often suffers.

You might begin to wonder if a wrongful death lawsuit could help you set your life upright again and begin to heal.

What counts as wrongful death in Georgia?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed in Georgia when someone dies of homicide. Note that "homicide" has a special meaning in this context.

In our state's wrongful death laws, homicide applies only to deaths resulting from one or more of these:

  • A crime.
  • Negligence.
  • A defectively manufactured product.

Of course, even aside from wrongful death claims, Georgia's laws about crime, negligence and product defects are complex.

For now, you should know such laws can involve almost anything from aircraft, bike, or other vehicle accidents to medical care, supervised activities, worksites and other places of business, the food industry and more.

Who's eligible to file a claim?

Not just anyone can officially file a wrongful death suit in Georgia, and the correct person depends on a specific sequence of possibilities.

The surviving spouse of the deceased can file. With no surviving spouse, it's the children. If there are no children, it's the parents who can file suit.

With no spouse, children, or parents, whoever is appointed to sort out the deceased's debts and assets (their estate's executor or administrator) can file suit and hold any benefits until a next of kin can be located.

What kind of damages can be recovered?

The full range of avenues for possible awards requires legal expertise and experience to explore.

Georgia law specifies that the relatives may recover "the full value of the life of the deceased, as shown by the evidence." There is no cap placed on the possible total.

This "full value" and "evidence" generally means the value in wealth and income expected from the unlived part of the life the person should have lived.

Also, less material dimensions are considered, usually as expressed in the testimony of survivors.

Additional damages are not usually awarded, in part because any additional lawsuits involving the death are often consolidated into the wrongful death suit. However, there can be many exceptions.

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