Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death: What is the Value of a Life?

Wrongful Death claims in Georgia exist when a person has died wrongfully by the actions, or inaction, of another person or entity. Wrongful Death claims can arise out of many types of torts including, but not limited to, personal injury cases, workers compensation cases, auto accidents, medical malpractice, and the like.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident, as a result of a work related injury, due to medical malpractice, or other circumstances, then we are truly sorry. We understand that this can cause much pain and turmoil in a person’s life and it can be compounded by the fact that the negligent act that caused the death could have been avoided. As we have seen recently with the loss of an aircraft and the search for survivors the pain that loved ones endure in these types of circumstances and we can only be as empathetic as we should be as humans to realize that this is a most painful situation to endure.

In the time of such a loss, it may be difficult to see where the law could ever offer any just compensation for the loss of our loved one. We are fortunate, however, in Georgia that our law is very compassionate to those who have wrongfully lost their lives and that Georgia Law places a high value on a person’s life. So, you might be asking, what is the value of a human life under Georgia Law?

At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates, our Wrongful Death Attorneys are experts at handling wrongful death cases not just from the stand point of proving negligence on the part of the responsible party, but also proving the value of a human life. If you have lost a loved one in any manner that you believe was the responsibility of another person or entity, then please contact us for your free consultation at any or all of the following means by phone at (770) 865-8654 and (813) 363-6664, by email at juliericelaw@outlook.com, or Contact Us on our website. You, our client, are our first priority and we will assist you in getting the full compensation that you deserve under Georgia Law for the loss of your loved one.

Under Georgia Law, a wrongful death claim is treated like any other tort claim in terms of proving negligence. As we have discussed in our blogs and in other pages on our website, in a tort action the burden of proof is on the Plaintiff (i.e. in a wrongful death claim that would be the parties who are seeking damages on behalf of the decedent) to show that the Defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent, that the Defendant breached that duty of care, and that the breach of the duty of care caused the death of the decedent. This must be shown by a preponderance of the evidence that it is more likely than not that the decedent died as a result of the negligence of the Defendant.

What makes a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia different than other types of tort claims is that once the Plaintiff has shown that the Decedent’s death was the result of the negligence of the Defendant, then the Plaintiff must show damages which is the value of the decedent’s life that was lost. We might automatically think of this in terms of economic loss, and the finder of fact whether it be a jury or a judge, will look at the economic loss such as the occupation of the deceased, how old was the deceased, the loss of earning capacity, and the like.

The finder of fact, however, in Georgia does not stop there when determining the value of a life. Georgia Law holds fast to the principle that life is valuable no matter what your occupation or earning capacity, that life is valuable not only to those who have lost a loved one, but that life is valuable to the person who has lost the ability to live and enjoy all those things in life that we honor and cherish. For example, it is tragic if a child loses his or her parent and loses the joy of having his or her parent alive during that child’s life. It is of equal, if not more important, under Georgia Law when determining damages in a Wrongful Death Case to ask what was the value lost of the parent in losing the enjoyment of raising his or her child?

This measure of damages of the value of life from a non-economic standpoint is well grounded in Georgia Law and is rarely disturbed in Wrongful Death Cases. Therefore, it is important that if you are faced with the Wrongful Death of a loved one that you seek legal counsel who understands that the determination of the value of a life is not purely economic and that there is value in everyone’s life. Georgia Law has even held further that is inappropriate when determining the value of a life to consider the economic status of a family, evidence of alcohol or drug abuse, evidence of criminal history of the decedent’s family, evidence of the decedent’s marital or family difficulties, and any evidence of other potentially discriminatory aspects of a decedent’s life such as sex life, infidelity, or pregnancy history.

What is appropriate to consider is the loss of the decedent’s right to enjoy life and life’s activities. We are valued as human beings who have the right to live and enjoy life, and when that has been taken away prematurely, the law in Georgia realizes that we can not bring a person back. We can, however, issue damages in the form of money not only to compensate those who have prematurely lost the life of a loved one, but to further compensate the decedent for failing to be able to life for life’s sake, and to further deter further activity that shows the disrespect for the human life.

Although we may find it difficult in these times to find comfort in monetary compensation, rest assured that the law in Georgia respects the value of a life and takes this very seriously. We are fortunate to be in a State that respects human life in this way under the law. If you have lost a loved one and you think this loss was the caused by the negligent acts of another, then please Contact Us for your free legal consultation. We respect human life and we respect the value of human life, and we believe that you should be compensated for the loss of a loved one and in your loved one’s honor for the loss that your loved one has endured in not being able to enjoy all the pleasures that life has to offer.