If someone dies in a Georgia car wreck that was not their fault, the insurance company for whoever was at fault must pay the cost. This includes expenses caused by the accident, such as emergency room bills and funeral costs. But it also can include paying close family members for the impact of losing a loved one. Although money can never make up for the loss of a life, it can help offset the way that that loss affects the survivors. The insurance industry uses unfortunate language to describe this: the claim is for “the value of the person’s life.”
This money can make a big difference. A car accident death can leave family members struggling, both financially and emotionally. There may be huge medical bills, plus funeral expenses. You may have lost the family breadwinner and wonder how you will survive financially. Fortunately, Georgia law allows the family to recover money for these losses in a wrongful death claim.
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim is a way of recovering money when someone dies in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, or negligence. In many ways, it is the same as any other car accident claim – you can recover money from the negligent driver’s insurance company, either in a settlement or through car accident law suits near Atlanta.
However, wrongful death claims can be complicated because the person who died cannot be a witness and explain what happened. This means that more investigation may be needed to prove who was at fault and persuade the insurance company to pay.
Wrongful death claims are also complicated because courts or insurance companies must place a value on a human life. Insurance companies like to use formulas, but these may not really reflect the true cost of the loss. Experts often must be called in to accurately calculate what a wrongful death claim should be worth.
Who can get money for wrongful death?
Only very specific family members. If the deceased person was married, the spouse is entitled to make a claim. If the deceased was not married but has children, the children can make a claim. If a person dies without a surviving spouse or child, then the parents can make a claim. And if the deceased person did not leave behind any of these relatives, the deceased person’s estate is the one that can file a wrongful death action.
How much will the insurance company pay?
The amount the insurance company will pay depends on many factors, including the cost of medical treatment and the life expectancy and occupation of the deceased person. If the person who died was partly at fault, the family will receive less money.
The money you receive in a wrongful death claim can pay for the deceased person’s costs and damages, including:
- Hospital, doctor and other medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Pain and suffering prior to death
It can also pay for the losses the family feels, or the fact that the deceased person has been deprived of the right to enjoy life. This might include your own emotional suffering, the future income the deceased will never earn, lost retirement benefits, and the loss of the deceased’s companionship. If your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to additional punitive damages.
Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t like to pay out claims, and complex wrongful death cases give them the perfect opportunity to minimize your losses and maximize their own profits. An insurance company may try to reduce the amount it has to pay by blaming your loved one for the accident. It will probably underestimate the value of your loved one’s life and your own losses, and it may pressure you to take a quick and cheap settlement.
How can I make sure the insurance company pays what my claim is worth?
The best way to get the insurance company to pay the full value of your claim is to talk to a car accident lawyer who has experience with wrongful death cases. A good lawyer will have a network of experts who can estimate the real value of your losses and present a convincing case to the insurance company or a jury. At our law firm, we also investigate how the accident happened, looking at police reports, witness accounts, vehicle damage and calling in experts as needed to build a strong case showing your loved one was not at fault.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers have a strong track record of recovering money in wrongful death cases. Let us put our experience to work for you – and you won’t pay anything if we don’t win you money. Let us give you FREE consultation. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.