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Wrongful Death

In Georgia, an action for wrongful death is a civil action to recover money damages for the death of a family member as a result of the negligent or reckless actions of another.  Wrongful death claims are commonly asserted as a result of car accidents, tractor-trailer collisions, premises liability, drunk drivers, and medical malpractice. Wrongful death legal actions seek to obtain “the full value of the life of the decedent.”  This includes the economic value of the deceased individual’s life expectancy, as well as the intangible element or value of the deceased individual’s life.  The economic value of a decedent’s life is generally measured by the earnings the deceased individual would have provided over the course of their life. The intangible element or value of the deceased individual’s life is incapable of exact proof and is left up to the enlightened conscious of a jury.

 O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2 provides that the surviving spouse may assert an action for the wrongful death of the other spouse. If the decedent had no spouse, the decedent’s child or children are the proper individuals to assert a claim or file a lawsuit.   If the surviving child or children are minors, an adult representative of the child or children will be appointed to pursue the action in the child’s or children’s names. Also, the fact that a child was born out of wedlock does not bar that child’s right to share in the recovery.

If the decedent is survived by a spouse and children, they all share in the recovery.  The surviving spouse receives no less than 1/3 of the settlement proceeds, with surviving children dividing the remainder of the settlement proceeds equally.

If a decedent does not have surviving spouse or surviving children, Georgia law allows for surviving family members to pursue a wrongful death action, with specifics on who may assert the claim and how to divide up any settlement monies among the living family members.    In addition to a wrongful death claim, there may also be an estate claim by the representative of the decedent’s estate for burial expenses, medical expenses, and the pain and suffering of the person who passed away.  

If you have lost a loved one as a result of the negligence of another, and you are considering pursuing a wrongful death claim, please contact attorney John Hurst for a free consultation.  The Law Offices of John W. Hurst, P.C. represents individuals on a contingent fee basis, meaning we charge no attorney’s fees until a settlement or verdict is obtained. To contact us regarding your case, you can call us for a free consultation at 404-932-9596 or fill out our online form.

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The Law Offices of John W. Hurst, P.C. represents clients in the metro Atlanta area, including Smyrna, Vinings, Marietta, Mableton, Kennesaw,Douglasville, Cobb County, Villa Rica, Paulding County, Alpharetta, Fairburn,  Sandy Springs, Fulton County, Roswell, Decatur, DeKalb County, Lithonia, Druid Hills, Dunwoody, Tucker, Duluth, Acworth, Fayetteville, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Chamblee, Snellville, Woodstock, Gainesville, Morrow, Carrollton, College Park, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Newnan, Conyers, Covington, Canton, Milton, John's Creek, Stockbridge, McDonough, Buford, Cumming, Athens, and other cities and counties throughout the State of Georgia.