Despite Atlanta drivers spending more and more time in their cars, the number of highway deaths in Georgia has decreased to the lowest rate since 1949. According to the Federal Transportation Department, 32,788 occupants of cars were killed in highway accidents during 2010. This is a 3% decrease from 2009 levels. Georgia and the Southeast trends follow closely the national statistics.
While the trend downward is promising, when you think about it, over 30,000 Americans died in car accidents last year alone–a sobering number, to say the least. As an Atlanta car accident lawyer, I am fully aware of the different types of auto accidents that lead to serious personal injury and death. We all must be vigilant in our attempts to continue this trend of better safety for the well-being of all who travel our roads.
Georgia recognizes two separate and distinct types of wrongful death claims. The first is a claim to establish the “full value of the life of the deceased.” This claim is brought by or on behalf of the surviving family members of the deceased person. It includes monetary damages related to both the financial and intangible value of the deceased person’s life, such as:
- lost wages and benefits, including what the deceased person might reasonably have earned had he or she lived; and
- loss of care, companionship, and other intangible benefits the deceased provided to loved ones.
The second kind of wrongful death claim is one that is meant to remedy the financial losses related to the deceased person’s death. This claim is brought by or on behalf of the estate, and it seeks to recover for the losses the estate suffered in relation to the death. Damages that may be recovered in this claim include:
- medical expenses related to the deceased person’s last illness or injury;
- funeral and burial expenses; and
- pain and suffering endured by the deceased just prior to dying.
While no amount of money will undo the loss of a loved one, Georgia laws attempt to adequately compensate you for your loss. When a family member is killed by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to recover “the full value of the life of the deceased.” At trial, factors which a jury may consider when determining the amount of money to award the survivors of a wrongful death victim are: photographs of the deceased, life expectancy, earning capacity of the deceased (i.e., what the deceased would have earned in his or her lifetime). Factors helpful to the jury in determining what the deceased would have earned are: age, sex, level of education and training, and what profession or career the deceased was engaged in when killed. Many times, it is up to the surviving spouse and other family members to convey via testimony the full value of the deceased’s life.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.