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Determining damages for wrongful death

In Georgia, a loved one may be able to seek monetary compensation from a party that causes the death of a family member. The amount of compensation that may be available is based on a number of factors related to the cause of death, the relationship between the loved one and the decedent and the actual losses that the death caused.

A wrongful death case may arise out of any number of situations, including a premises liability issue, a vehicle accident or medical malpractice. Once the plaintiff establishes the defendant's liability, the case moves on to discuss what damages should be awarded. The first measure of damages is based on the family's actual financial losses. These damages usually include funeral expenses, medical expenses incurred immediately prior to death, loss of support, lost inheritance and loss of domestic services. When determining the value of these damages, the jury considers the age and health of the decedent, his or her earning capacity, his or her job history and rate of promotion and his or her life expectancy. Expert testimony may be able to provide a proper evaluation of these damages.

Another type of damage request in a wrongful death case may be for punitive damages. These damages are more rare in nature and are used to punish the defendant for particularly egregious conduct and to deter others from behaving in a similar manner. A decedent's personal representative may also decide to pursue a survival action to recover for the decedent's pain and suffering.

Individuals who have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another may decide to pursue a wrongful death claim against the defendant. They may call upon the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to explain their rights and to represent their interests in court.

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