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What Types of Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a person dies in Georgia as a result of another person’s negligence or intentional act, a surviving family member of the deceased (or the personal representative of the deceased) may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party in order to recover damages. When Georgia law refers to damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, what types of damages should a plaintiff expect to seek? 

Damages in a wrongful death claim are similar to the types of damages available in various kinds of personal injury lawsuits. However, there are some important distinctions to note. It is also important to understand that damages are awarded on a case-by-case basis. They are based on the specific facts of the wrongful death case and the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s death.

The type and amount of damages will vary from case to case. The following are the types of damages that are often awarded in Georgia wrongful death lawsuits.

Compensatory Damages for the “Full Value of the Life of the Decedent”

Under Georgia law, a plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit can be eligible to recover compensatory damages for “the full value of the life of the decedent.” This terminology includes various types of losses for which family members and next of kin may be able to recover. Any damages awarded are designed to compensate for both direct and indirect losses. Compensatory damages include both economic damages and non-economic damages. 

The language of “the full value of the life of the decedent” may include compensation for the following economic losses:

  • Lost wages of the deceased, including what the deceased would have earned if she or he had lived and continued working.
  • Lost benefits from the deceased, including the benefits the deceased, would have provided if she or he had lived.
  • Lost services that would have been provided by the deceased.

The language of “the full value of the life of the decedent” may include compensation for the following non-economic losses:

  • Loss of the deceased’s care.
  • Loss of the deceased’s advice and counsel.
  • Loss of the deceased’s companionship.

It is important to note that Georgia law allows surviving family members to seek these damages in a specific order, beginning with a surviving spouse, followed by a surviving child, and then a surviving parent. If none of these parties exists to file a claim, the personal representative of the estate can seek damages.

Compensation for Losses Resulting from the Injury and Death of the Deceased

A surviving family member or personal representative of the deceased can also recover compensatory damages for losses “resulting from the injury and death of the deceased person.” The statute expressly identifies the following as possible economic damages that a plaintiff in a wrongful death claim may be able to recover:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Other necessary expenses resulting from the injury and death.

Contact an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have questions about damages in a wrongful death claim, or you need assistance with a wrongful death lawsuit, one of our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys can help. Contact Stewart Simmons Trial Attorneys online or call us at (404) 529-3476 for assistance.

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