If your loved one dies in a car crash because of someone driving under the influence, the state of Georgia allows you to sue the person or company responsible.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a lawsuit filed in civil court. Although the individual allegedly responsible for the death may have criminal charges filed, the civil suit may only impose a compensatory punishment. In Georgia, the spouse, parents and children can file the lawsuit. The estate’s personal representative can also file a suit. There are two categories of damages you can receive—compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages divide into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are verifiable and may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Funeral expenses
- Property damage
- Lost retirement benefits
Noneconomic damages are intangible losses, including pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
The courts use punitive damages to penalize the wrongdoer for the act and to deter similar bad conduct in the future. Georgia does not consider punitive damages as compensation, merely punishment. When awarding punitive damages, there must be clear and convincing evidence of the wrongdoing to include:
- Intentional malice
- Willful misconduct
- Extreme recklessness
Georgia does not cap wrongful death damages. However, you must ask that punitive damages be awarded when filing the complaint since Georgia does not allow awarding of those damages if you do not ask for them.
You have two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Be aware of the laws surrounding wrongful death to know if you have a case to get you the compensation you deserve.