Losing a loved one is an incredibly tragic experience with lasting effects. When considering a wrongful death claim, you may have questions about the process and potential outcomes.
Our Georgia wrongful death lawyers will explain everything you need to know about filing for wrongful death and the truth behind the average payout for wrongful death lawsuits.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Under Georgia Code § 51-4-2, there are only certain parties who may file a wrongful death claim.
This usually includes:
- The surviving spouse,
- A child or children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse,
- The decedent’s parents if there is no surviving spouse or child, or
- An executor of the decedent’s estate.
One thing to keep in mind is that regardless of which party files the claim, they have a limited time to do so. In Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years for most wrongful death cases.
However, the time may be tolled or delayed if the decedent’s estate gets delayed going through probate or if there is a criminal case tied to the death.
If you suspect any of these situations apply to you, be sure to contact one of our attorneys.
How Much Is the Average Wrongful Death Settlement?
While searching for the average wrongful death settlement in Georgia on the internet, you may find very different answers. One of the reasons for this is that it’s somewhat difficult, if not impossible to calculate an actual average.
For example, many online estimates don’t include confidential settlement amounts. This makes any average quite misleading because it leaves out crucial data.
Another issue is that these averages can’t account for the differences between cases. The loss of a loved one has a unique impact on every family, which is often reflected by the damages claimed.
For this reason, any average is just an educated guess rather than an authoritative standard.
Factors That Affect Georgia Wrongful Death Claims
In wrongful death claims, there are a couple of factors that have a great effect on the total settlement amount. Averages can’t take these factors into account because they change from case to case.
For this reason, we recommend contacting an attorney to discuss the specifics of your claim.
The Amount of Damages
Perhaps the most essential factor in all Georgia wrongful death settlements is the amount of damages sustained by the family.
In wrongful death cases, the claimant may recover only those losses related to the loss of the decedent.
This means they can’t recover damages suffered by the person who died, such as pain and suffering they endured prior to their death.
However, they may recover other losses such as:
- Funeral or burial expenses,
- The value of the decedent’s benefits and earnings,
- Loss of consortium for a surviving spouse, and
- Loss of guidance and companionship.
For this reason, many families file both a wrongful death claim and a survival action. Essentially, the survival action is a personal injury claim filed on behalf of the deceased loved one.
In this type of lawsuit, it’s possible to pursue damages for the decedent’s medical expenses and pain and suffering prior to death.
Another thing to consider is the age, earnings, and education of the decedent at the time of death. To determine loss of future earnings, attorneys often look at the career trajectory of the decedent.
Were they younger or older? What was their educational background? Did they have specialized training? Were they likely to be promoted any time in the future?
These all help calculate the potential financial assistance the decedent would have provided their family if they had lived.
Since this varies widely between cases, an estimate of the average wrongful death settlement in Georgia is unlikely an accurate representation of your case.
How the Wrongful Death Occurred
Not all wrongful deaths are the same under Georgia law. As a result, wrongful deaths associated with medical malpractice have different rules and limitations.
For example, prior to 2010, the state of Georgia had a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice-related claims. In addition, plaintiffs couldn’t recover more than $1,050,000 in total.
However, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled this cap unconstitutional in 2010, which means the cap no longer applies.
Despite this, Georgia law still caps punitive damages in wrongful deaths arising from medical malpractice at $250,000.
Why It’s Important to Seek the Assistance of a Wrongful Death Attorney
There are a few different reasons why seeking the help of an attorney is essential in a wrongful death case. The first is that handling a wrongful death claim is time-consuming and stressful.
At MG Law, we believe that you and your family deserve time to grieve. You shouldn’t need to spend countless hours collecting evidence, negotiating with the defense, or gathering necessary documents.
An attorney can assist with all these aspects of this case instead, so you can focus on being with family.
Second, attorneys aren’t intimidated by the negotiation tactics of the defense. When dealing with insurance companies or other legal teams, it’s easy to get discouraged by their aggressiveness.
Sometimes they use this to take advantage of plaintiffs while they’re at their most vulnerable. At MG Law, we never back down and always fight passionately on behalf of our clients.
Finally, our attorneys can help determine the full extent of your losses. Estimating the loss of a loved one’s future contributions is incredibly difficult.
However, we take into consideration all of the different forms of assistance your loved one provided. While it’s impossible to know the true value of a life, we do our best to help your family recover.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney at MG Law Today
While the average settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit isn’t that accurate, it doesn’t mean you have to figure out your losses alone.
At MG Law, we handle every aspect of your case from day one. We know how devastating it is for families when they lose a loved one.
That’s why we help take the legal load off of their shoulders and advocate for their wellbeing. If you have questions about filing for wrongful death, contact us online or call our firm at (770) 988-5252 for a free consultation.
We proudly serve clients throughout the state of Georgia.