Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and an Estate Claim

So you’ve recently lost a loved one, and you’re not sure of the differences between a wrongful death claim and an estate claim. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. These legal terms can be confusing, but understanding them is important for seeking compensation after such a tragedy.

Speaking with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Atlanta is the best way to determine which claims should be filed and ensure that justice is served.

Wrongful Death vs. Estate Claims: Understanding Key Differences

When someone dies due to the negligence or wrongful act of another person or entity, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim. These claims seek compensation for losses like lost wages and benefits, loss of companionship, and mental anguish. Only certain family members, like spouses, children, and parents, can file a wrongful death claim. These claims must be filed within two years of the death.

An estate claim is filed by the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate. It seeks compensation for any expenses related to the death, like funeral and medical costs. Unlike wrongful death claims, estate claims do not have any restrictions on who can file or time limits for filing. However, the damages that can be recovered are more limited.

There are also significant differences between how damages are calculated for each type of claim:

Wrongful Death Claims

With a wrongful death claim in Atlanta, damages are calculated based on the value of the life lost. This includes both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to the deceased’s financial contributions and resources, such as income, benefits, and household services. Non-economic damages mean losing love, affection, care, assistance, and society.

The damages awarded in a wrongful death claim are distributed according to Georgia’s statute. Typically, the surviving spouse and children receive the largest portion. Other family members may also receive compensation. The exact amount depends on factors like the deceased’s age, health, life expectancy, and earning potential.

estate claims are different from wrongful death claims


Estate Claims

For estate claims, damages are calculated differently. The claim is made on behalf of the deceased’s estate rather than individual surviving family members. Damages are based only on the economic losses to the estate, such as medical and funeral expenses. Non-economic damages like loss of consortium are not recoverable.

The damages in an estate claim are distributed according to the deceased’s will or Georgia’s laws of intestate succession if they died without a will. All outstanding debts of the estate must be paid before any remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries. The amount awarded in an estate claim is often much lower than a wrongful death claim since only economic losses are considered.

What Types of Damage Can Be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Claim Vs. Estate Claim?

The damages awarded in a wrongful death claim are distributed to the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, and other dependents to compensate for their loss. Damages from an estate claim are distributed according to the deceased’s will or state law. Both claims can be pursued simultaneously to maximize the recovery for losses.

While no amount of money can undo the harm, pursuing a wrongful death or estate claim can at least provide some financial security and closure for grieving loved ones. The process may seem complicated, but an experienced wrongful death attorney can determine which claims apply to your situation and handle the legal details so you can focus on healing.

Reach Out to an Experienced Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you have questions about whether you have a valid wrongful death or estate claim, do not hesitate to contact The Bethune Law Firm for a free consultation. During our initial meeting, we can discuss the specifics of your situation and determine the best legal options available to you. We will be upfront about the strengths and weaknesses of your case and whether litigation is advisable.

We know you want justice for your loved one. Our team of skilled Atlanta wrongful death attorneys is here to help you through this difficult time and obtain a settlement that reflects the true value of your loved one’s life. Call us today at 404-875-7800 to schedule an appointment!