In Georgia, a “wrongful death” is defined as a death resulting from the “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” acts of another, whether from an individual or a legal entity such as a business. Just like a personal injury case, the negligence of the accused party must be proven. However, in the case of wrongful death, a person affected cannot bring his or her own claim, so must be represented by others. The claim is usually brought by family members or next of kin with the help of a wrongful death attorney, but if the deceased does not have any of these, a representative of the estate may bring the claim.

How is the value of a wrongful death claim determined? The “full value of life” clause demands consideration of both the economic and noneconomic value of the deceased’s life. The economic value of the life of the deceased takes into consideration the person’s age, health, income, and lifetime earning potential at the time of death. Other factors may be included, such as the person’s work ethic and reliability.

The second calculation is the deceased’s intangible, or noneconomic, value. Though a wrongful death attorney may suggest a rubric for calculating the person’s intangible value, there is no set formula. The jury is asked to examine and thoughtfully weigh all elements of the person’s quality of life, including their friendships and family ties, living situation, and even hobbies and organizational memberships. Family and friends may testify to the deceased’s quality of life. The jury may project the length of the person’s life based on Georgia’s life expectancy tables. A successful wrongful death claim may also reimburse medical and funeral expenses, paid to the estate of the deceased.

Two years after the time of death, a case reaches the statute of limitations, which means that it cannot be pursued any longer, unless the clock has been stopped for a particular reason, such as an ongoing investigation. To answer questions about wrongful death claims, contact an experienced wrongful death attorney from Alexander Shunnarah & Associates.