A wrongful death settlement attempts to place a dollar value on the life of a person who died in an accident. It involves complex calculations of the expected lifetime earnings of the deceased, as well as the value of the opportunity to live and enjoy life. The age, life expectancy and occupation of the deceased, and the way the deceased lived, may all be factors in a wrongful death settlement.
The insurance coverage of the person at fault in the accident also plays a role. Insurance policies always come with coverage limits, and an insurance company will not settle a claim for more than the maximum coverage amount. Wrongful death claims can be worth much more than most other car accident claims, but they can also be quite complicated. That is why it is important to talk to an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after your loss.
What factors go into a wrongful death settlement?
In Georgia, a wrongful death claim takes the perspective of the person who dies, and attempts to place a dollar value on the life the deceased has lost. It does not look at the losses felt by family members. There are two main parts of any wrongful death settlement:
- Economic losses. This is money that the deceased person will never receive, and is mainly made up of future income. Expert evaluation is often needed to calculate how much the deceased could have been expected to earn over a lifetime, considering the person’s age, education and occupation. These losses will tend to be higher for someone young than for someone in their retirement years.
- Non-economic losses. The person who passed away has also been deprived of the ability to enjoy life, raise children, be a partner to their spouse, participate in community activities, take vacations, pursue hobbies, and do all the other things we humans like to do. It is hard to place a value on these things, and the insurance company may use a formula to arrive at a settlement offer.
The offer you get from the insurance company, however, will almost always be less than you should receive. Insurance companies keep their profits up by using formulas that lead to low settlement offers, and many people accept these offers without realizing they could be entitled to much, much more. This is why it is so important to work with a good car accident lawyer near Atlanta.
Who can get a wrongful death settlement?
Only the closest family members are allowed to bring a wrongful death claim in Georgia.
- If the person who died left behind a spouse, the spouse can make a claim on behalf of themselves and any children.
- If there are children but no spouse, the children can make a claim.
- If there is no surviving spouse or child, the deceased person’s parents may file a wrongful death claim.
- If the deceased did not leave behind any of these relatives, the deceased’s estate can make a claim.
This means that friends, other family members and unrelated people who lived with the deceased are not permitted to recover money for wrongful death.
Will the settlement include funeral expenses?
Georgia law places funeral expenses in a different category. The estate of the person who died – rather than the close relatives directly – can make a claim for funeral expenses. This claim can also include any other expenses the deceased had because of the accident, including medical bills. It also can include damages for the deceased’s pain and physical and emotional suffering because of the accident, and punitive damages in drunk driving accidents and certain other situations. The estate will use any financial recovery to pay bills and expenses and will distribute whatever is left over to the deceased person’s heirs.
A sudden death in the family can cause financial stress on top of grief. A car accident lawyer can take the complicated legal aspects of a wrongful death claim off your plate, giving you time and space to focus on your loss and your future. With a lawyer on your side, you are likely to recover much more money than the insurance company would otherwise offer you.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our law firm has extensive experience in wrongful death settlements, and we know what we have to do to get you the money you are entitled to. We never charge a fee unless we succeed in getting you money. Let us give you a FREE consultation to discuss your claim and help you decide what you should do. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.