Georgia Wrongful Death Definitions (O.C.G.A. § 51-4-1)
Lawyer Commentary. This Georgia statute provides two wrongful death-related definitions, “full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence” and “homicide”. As an Atlanta area wrongful death lawyer, I know that the interpretation of these definitions is very important.
The definition of the “full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence” can have serious implications for the amount that can be recovered for the loss of a loved one due to the negligence or extreme recklessness of another party (person, business entity or government entity). If construed strictly, this definition does not give much direction on how a jury should determine what the full value of the life of the decedent is worth. Due to this, interpreting Georgia case law is required to ensure the families of the decedent, or the estate, are properly compensated for the loss of their loved one.
The definition of “homicide” is a general definition for the death of a person due to crime, negligence or extreme recklessness. Strict construction of this definition will be sufficient in a wrongful death case, without requiring case law interpretation. This definition encompasses death resulting from the negligent, reckless (extremely careless) or intentional acts of another such as in:
- Catastrophic Personal Injury, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, burn injuries, quadriplegia and paraplegia, amputation injury, radiation injury
- Truck, Auto, Commercial or Other Vehicle Accidents, including airplanes, boats, bicycles, pedestrians
- Premises Liability
- Product Liability from defects in a consumer product
- A crime committed because of poor security
- Drunk driving or drug related accidents
- Elder abuse or Nursing Home Liability
- Child Injuries
- Work Related Accidents
As used in this chapter, the term:
(1) 'Full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence' means the full value of the life of the decedent without deducting for any of the necessary or personal expenses of the decedent had he lived.
(2) 'Homicide' includes all cases in which the death of a human being results from a crime, from criminal or other negligence, or from property which has been defectively manufactured, whether or not as the result of negligence.