Seeking Punitive Damages in a Georgia Wrongful Death Case

Damages in a Georgia wrongful death claim are calculated as if the victim had survived. In other words, the court calculates damages as losses sustained by the victim. Though the wrongful death claim is filed by surviving family members, the court views the family as the victim's representatives.

Georgia's wrongful death decedent perspective means the victim's family cannot recover damages for their own emotional harm or for the support they would have otherwise received from the victim. Georgia courts award pain and suffering compensation based on what was experienced by the victim. Clayton County wrongful death attorney Shane Smith represents families who have lost loved ones in auto accidents, truck accidents and DUI accidents.

A jury may decide whether punitive damages are relevant. These are financial awards that serve to punish the wrongful or negligent party for its behavior. Punitive damages may not be awarded in Georgia wrongful death cases to surviving family members. However, punitive damages have been awarded in Georgia wrongful death cases that were brought by an estate's administrator associated with the victim's accident-related pain and suffering. Georgia juries have assessed punitive damages when there was pre-impact fright and terror in an auto accident and when there was property damage sustained by the estate.

For example, in a Georgia DUI accident where an accident victim is hospitalized for a time before succumbing to his injuries, the estate can sue the DUI driver for pain and suffering prior to death, funeral expenses, medical expenses and punitive damages. The heirs with standing may sue for the decedent's full life value of the life but they are prohibited from seeking punitive damages. This is because Georgia views the wrongful death statute to be somewhat punitive by nature.

You should hire an experienced Clayton County wrongful death attorney if you will file a lawsuit on behalf of a family member who died due to another's negligence. Call Shane Smith Law for a free consultation.

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