Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
One of the primary objectives of a wrongful death lawsuit is to provide financial compensation to the surviving family members for the damages they have suffered as a result of the death. These damages can take several forms.
Compensatory damages are the most common types of compensation awarded in wrongful death cases. They provide reimbursement for both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages are the financial losses that the surviving family members have incurred due to the death. Common examples include:
- Medical bills and injury-related expenses from the accident that caused a loved one’s death.
- Loss of the deceased’s future income and benefits
- Loss of inheritance
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Legal fees
Non-economic damages are the intangible losses that the surviving family members have suffered. For example:
- Loss of support and services that the victim provided, such as childcare
- Loss of parental guidance
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Loss of consortium damages can also be awarded to the surviving spouse of the deceased person for the loss of their partner’s love, affection, and companionship.
Punitive damages are awarded in addition to economic and non-economic damages in cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious or reckless. These damages are intended to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Examples of wrongful cases where punitive damages are often awarded involve drunk driving accidents or medical malpractice.
Modified Comparative Negligence in Georgia
In Georgia, modified comparative negligence can also be applied in wrongful death claims. Under this doctrine, the same principles apply as in personal injury cases. If the deceased person was partially at fault for their own death, their family’s damages will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault, as long as they were less than 50% to blame. For example, if the deceased person was found to be 20% at fault for their own accident, their family members will receive 80% of any award. However, if the deceased person is determined to have been 50% or more responsible, their family will be barred from recovering any damages.
Who Can Recover Damages in a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Georgia law, the following family members are eligible to recover damages in a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased person.
- The surviving children of the deceased person.
- If there is no surviving spouse or child, the surviving parents of the deceased person.
- If there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can recover damages on behalf of the estate.
Wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of the death, or there is a risk of it being barred.
An Attorney Can Help
A wrongful death lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death, gather evidence, consult with experts, and negotiate with insurance companies and defense attorneys to ensure you receive the compensation that you and your family deserve. Arrange a free consultation with a trusted Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer today.