Wrongful Death Lawyers in Atlanta, Georgia Address Plaintiffs Questions
The wrongful death of a person has devastating effects on surviving family members. Attorneys for the plaintiff must exercise a great deal of diligence, professionalism, and compassion to successfully prove the full extent of their clients’ damages.
What are the Wrongful Death Laws in Georgia?
Most states currently provide that surviving family members in wrongful death actions can recover damages for loss of income, services, protection, care, assistance, society, companionship, comfort, guidance, counsel, and advice of the decedent in a wrongful death action. Many states also provide for recovery of punitive damages where defendants have acted intentionally or recklessly. With so many different types of damages available, lawyers can often prove damages using a large number of witnesses and with a great quantity of evidence. Managing and developing this evidence can therefore require a great deal of skill and experience. Our lawyers in Atlanta, Georgia have the experience and background to vehemently pursue your claim on your behalf.
In addition to wrongful death actions, most states also provide for “survival actions”. Survival actions are often brought in conjunction with wrongful death claims to recover money for the fatal injuries, conscious pain and suffering, and medical expenses leading to an individual’s death. Damages in these cases are normally proven with medical evidence and through the testimony of witnesses to an accident or to the suffering of the decedent.
I will always be thankful for your help during my time of need.
Noel F. – West Columbia, South Carolina
How Does My Lawyer Prove Liability and Damages in a Wrongful Death Case in Georgia?
In every wrongful death or survival action, the plaintiff (usually an immediate family member) has the burden of proving both liability and damages. To prove liability, it is often necessary to force disclosure of information from recalcitrant defendants or reluctant witnesses. Proving damages, on the other hand, can usually be done through cooperative witnesses, such as family members, friends, employers, medical doctors and other experts. The plaintiff’s attorney must spend a great deal of time with family members learning about their losses and about the history of the family, the individual clients, and of the decedent. Other witnesses who knew the decedent and can describe what losses the family members have experienced must be located and interviewed. Photographs and videotapes that can clearly illustrate the life of the decedent and the losses suffered by family members must be located or developed. Economists, occupational experts, and medical experts are often utilized and provided with the information they need to assess the plaintiff’s losses. By investing the time and working hard, the plaintiff’s attorney will be able to prepare a strong case for damages.
How Does the Loss of Income in a Wrongful Death Case Work in Georgia?
In most wrongful death cases, the loss of the decedent’s income which supported the spouse and children is a major component of damages. This includes future earnings, wages, salary, benefits, and other compensation of the decedent. Increasingly, the loss of fringe benefits is becoming an important element of damages. The value of retirement plans, medical and dental benefits, and other common fringe benefits previously provided by the decedent often can be recovered by survivors.
In assessing damages involving loss of income, evidence of the deceased’s actual earnings, as well as the ability to earn money in the future, are important factors which the jury must consider. A wide range of factors may be relevant to determining what the future earning capacity of the deceased would have been, including life expectancy, health, occupation, age, work habits, and business skills. The calculation of these damages is sometimes performed by an economist, often with the assistance of an occupational expert.
Finally, an award for loss of income must be adjusted to reflect the present value of the damages. Depending on the interest rate which is assumed, the present value can vary greatly. It is the job of the plaintiff’s Atlanta lawyer to persuade the jury to adopt reasonable assumptions concerning future interest rates so that the survivors are able to realize the actual present value of their income losses.
Can There be Punitive Damages for a Wrongful Death Case in Georgia?
Punitive damages are available in wrongful death cases in twenty seven states to punish defendants who have engaged in malicious, intentional, or reckless behavior. In cases where these damages are available, they provide the plaintiff’s attorney with a powerful weapon if the attorney gathers the appropriate evidence. Key factors governing punitive damages include: the reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct, whether the defendant has engaged in such conduct on other occasions, the defendant’s wealth (often referred to as the defendant’s “worldly circumstances”), and the statutory or constitutional limits on the maximum amount of a punitive damages award.
Slappey & Sadd, LLC is an Atlanta-based personal injury law firm that focuses on Wrongful Death Cases.
Please fill out the contact form or call 404-255-6677 for an evaluation of your wrongful death case at no charge.