Decatur & Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers
A life cut short due to incompetence, negligence and wrongdoing – nothing is more tragic. Some are silenced by the death; but at the Krause Law Firm, we believe that you should Fight back! Protect your family. Correct the injustice. Make sure it doesn’t happen to someone else.
What is a Wrongful Death Action?
Wrongful Death actions are specialized civil lawsuits filed by the family for a death caused by an accident, carelessness, negligence, or medical malpractice. This is a type of personal tort action that is created by statutory law (i.e. passed by the Georgia legislature and signed by the Governor into law). The Georgia Wrongful Death Act, O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1., et seq. allows recovery vested in two related by separate parties.
The key statutory language granting a right to recovery in the survivors.
The surviving spouse or, if there is no surviving spouse, a child or children, either minor or sui juris, may recover for the homicide of the spouse or parent the full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence.
O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1(a).
Plus, the key statutory language granting a right to recovery in the Estate. When death of a human being results from a crime or from criminal or other negligence, the personal representative of the deceased person shall be entitled to recover for the funeral, medical, and other necessary expenses resulting from the injury and death of the deceased person.
O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5(b).
The most common situations of wrongful death claim arise include:
– Accidents and collisions, where a truck/car/motorcycle runs into either another vehicle.
– Accidents when boating, swimming, or around water.
– Accidents with cars or trucks, when someone is walking, jogging, or even riding their bikes.
– Injury and death of a loved one at work, many times in some type of construction or manufacturing.
– Medical malpractice, in hospitals, outpatient offices and pharmacies.
– Shootings, assaults (including rape) at apartment houses, gas stations and other commercial properties.
What Can Be Recovered / What is the Result?
Money is the only outcome, remedy or damages that can be achieved through a wrongful death action. Nobody goes to jail. Nobody loses their medical license. The verdict only grants money to the family. However, money is important for many reasons.
Money is Important Because Money = Justice = Honor.
Money honors the life lost. Money provides dignity to the family and the loved one that died. Money says that your loved one’s life was important. That it was worth something. That the people and companies that they took something valuable away from this earth, and now they have to pay. Of course, money can never return the loved one. All of our client families would prefer to have their loved one back – and would give all the money in the world to just see them again. Yet, ordering a defendant to pay up restores balance to the universe—even if it’s admittedly just a little bit.
Money Eases Financial Strains.
While money could never make the family whole, it can ease the financial strain. In situations of wrongful death, parent who has children, highlights the importance of money. If the parent was earning $30,000 per year, and would have worked for 20 years, simple math shows a loss of over $600,000. Of course, a parents work (and joy) is to be with their children. What does it cost to hire the “very best” caregiver, the “very best” teacher, the “very best” psychologist? Money can help assist the family in making these obstacles a little bit easier. Of course, the value of a life is far beyond economics. In fact, Georgia law tells us that we must evaluate the life from the perspective or vantage point of the deceased loved one. We have had clients use the money to make the life of the family better. Nothing makes us prouder, then when a client calls us back 10 years later, still owning the home that they purchased with a settlement. Other clients have donated the money, and one created a foundation in hour of their son.
A Money Judgment Encourages Safer Behavior by Penalizing the Wrongdoer.
In all my cases of wrongful death, the death occurred because someone acting carelessly, and many times, recklessly. Think about it. A driver kills someone while speeding or while drunk. A doctor misdiagnoses a patient because he fails to read the test that was ordered. An apartment complex’s front gate is broken, and anyone can come into the complex, including folks who are dangerous. In most of these situations, the wrongdoer did not intend to hurt anyone. Maybe, folks will not drink and drive. Maybe doctors will read the test results. However, we all know that driving while drunk slows the reaction time, resulting in more collisions. Maybe the front gate of the apartment complex works. The goal, as explained by the Georgia Supreme Court in Western & C. R. Co. v. Michael, 175 Ga. 1 (1932), was to encourage safety by penalizing those that fail to act safely, and who negligently kill.