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What Damages Can You Pursue in a Wrongful Death Case

Last Updated on June 16, 2021 by Theodore Spaulding

In this video, attorney Ted Spaulding explains how damages work in a wrongful death case. He reviews how to differentiate a wrongful death claim and an estate claim, and how damages are actually defined. 

What damages are available in a wrongful death case in Georgia? Keep watching this video to find out.

Hi, I’m Theodore Spaulding. I’m an Atlanta personal injury trial lawyer and I’m the founder here at Spaulding Injury Law.

So we do a lot of wrongful death cases, unfortunately. They’re very sad cases to handle, but the question always becomes what damages are we pursuing? And this is a real nuance here. Why? Because I’ve got other articles and videos on this, there are two claims available. There’s a wrongful death claim and there’s potentially an estate claim. Two totally separate claims. So what we’re talking about here is the wrongful death claim, not the estate claim. The estate claim is for medical bills, funeral costs, lost earnings, those sorts of things, okay. The estate has those claims. The wrongful death claim, and therefore the damages that you’re pursuing in a wrongful death claim in Georgia, that is for the life of the deceased. So your family member, that is the item of damage that the jury is trying to come up with, not pain and suffering, that’s the estate claim. It is just what is the value of the life of the defendant? Okay. I mean, I’m sorry, of the plaintiff.

So you’re having to pitch to 12 jurors, this is the life that this person led, this is how much life they had left in front of them, things that they were doing or were going to do, children that they were going to raise, all these things to give the jury enough evidence to come up with a value of the life missed, basically, of this individual. So naturally, if you have a 20-year-old, who has a much longer lifespan, that’s probably gonna have more value than a 60-year-old, right? Because the jury is trying to determine, and it’s the value to that deceased person, by the way.

So this is where it gets even more complicated. It’s not the value to the family. “Oh, I miss my brother,” you know, “It’s really hard on me. I’m in therapy.” No, that’s not the damages. The damages are what is the loss of life to the deceased, and then the family is being compensated for that. So it’s a strange nuance. It’s what we have to do at a trial of a wrongful death case is to teach the jury this and make sure they understand that’s what they are determining under the law is the damages for that person’s loss of life and their future life. So hopefully that helps you out, answers your questions. If it does not, or if you have a claim or case you’d like to see if my firm can handle, please respond to this video below.

Go to my website, spauldinginjurylaw.com. We have a contact form on there and we’ll reach back out to you, or give me a phone call, 770-744-0890 or 470-695-9950. Thanks so much for watching this video.

Theodore Spaulding, attorney

For close to 15 years, Mr. Spaulding has helped victims of negligence across the state of Georgia resolve personal injury disputes, and he’s received a remarkable number of awards and honors from the legal community recognizing his commitment to clients and to the metro-Atlanta area.

As an undergraduate, Mr. Spaulding belonged to the Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity at the University of Georgia, and he obtained his legal training at the Georgia State College of Law, where he clerked for the Honorable Judge Rowland Barnes of the Fulton County Superior Court. Mr. Spaulding has also worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta Enforcement Division. Since 2005, he has dedicated his career to helping the injured victims of negligence and their loved ones win justice in Georgia’s personal injury courts.