Georgia Legal Resources and FAQ: Determining the amount of damages in a wrongful death case is different in every individual case In Georgia, how much a wrongful death case is worth is generally said to be based on the full value of a person’s life. O.C.G.A. 51-4-2 and 19-7-1(c)(1). The full value of a life is based upon both the loss of the value of the life – viewed from the perspective of the deceased – and the economic damages which are typically calculated based upon the expected earnings that the decedent would have made if he or she had lived. Economic damages are often calculated using income tax-returns and using experts such as economists and doctors to estimate how much a person’s future earnings would be and how long he or she was expected to live, based on their current age and state of health before they were wrongfully killed. Non-economic damages are awarded based upon a jury’s “enlightened conscience” after hearing evidence about how the deceased lived and what he or she had to look forward to in their future.
In some, but not all cases, a high net-worth person, such as a professional athlete, entertainer, or doctor may be said to have a large future economic value. But, a skillful lawyer will present evidence to Jurors that each person is different and special, and that the loss of enjoyment and future life has a huge value to all of us.
An estate also has claims for funeral and medical expenses, pre-death pain and suffering, and punitive damages if the deceased was not killed immediately (when this happens, this is known as a “survival claim”) and there is evidence that the at-fault party acted intentionally or willfully. O.C.G.A. 51-4-5(b) and O.C.G.A. 9-2-41.
Because it is virtually impossible to entirely answer and explain the value of a Georgia wrongful death case in these pages, we invite anyone with questions to call our office for a free telephone call with one of our friendly and caring attorneys. Even if you are not certain if you have a case, feel free to call us and have your questions answered by a Millar Law Firm lawyer today. We will answer your questions as fully and honestly as we can, and will not pressure you to ‘sign now.’