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Georgia Wrongful Death Cases Impacted by Recent Court of Appeals Case

MARTA v. Maloof decided yesterday by the Georgia Court of Appeals holds that a wrongful death claim is not stayed by Georgia Code Section 9-3-92 (Tolling time for Unrepresented Estates). This holding affects the time in which an estate may bring a wrongful death claim. The reasoning is odd and this case is not helpful to plaintiffs who are pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate.

Under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-92 an estate claim should be tolled. The code sections state:
9-3-92. Five-year tolling for unrepresented estate — In favor of estate

The time between the death of a person and the commencement of representation upon his estate or between the termination of one administration and the commencement of another shall not be counted against his estate in calculating any limitation applicable to the bringing of an action, provided that such time shall not exceed five years. At the expiration of the five years the limitation shall commence, even if the cause of action accrued after the person’s death.

The wrongful death claim in Georgia is composed of two separate claims:

The Traditional Wrongful Death Claim—– In Georgia, this claim is for the value of the life of the deceased taken by the negligence of another. The measure of these damages can be immense and includes, but is not necessarily limited to the amount of money the deceased would have made over his or her lifetime had the death not occurred and the value of services that the deceased could perform, if they had not been wrongfully killed.

The Estate Claim —- This claim can only be filed by the estate and it is not for the value of the life of the deceased but instead any expenses the Estate has incurred resulting from the injury and death, as well as pain and suffering. Most commonly, this element of the claims compensates the estate for the pain and suffering incurred by the decedent when he died. For instance, a common part of these damages is for the jury to place a monetary value on the suffering the decedent endured as he suffocated or burned to death. While these two examples are dramatic to prove the point (i.e., the circumstance and suffering of almost any death is horrific), there are simply too many ways in which one dies to go over each example.

Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases 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. He practices in and around the Atlanta area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities 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 in a car accident and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.


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