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Wrongful Death

Georgia law provides that "the measure of damages in a wrongful death case is the full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence." This would be 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."

The jury could consider the "age of the deceased, the health he enjoyed, the money he was making by his labor, his habits, his probable loss of employment, his voluntary abstaining from work, dullness in business, reduction of wages, the increasing infirmities of age, with a corresponding diminution of earning capacity, and other causes which may contribute in greater or less degree to decreasing the gross earnings of a lifetime."

The jury could also consider the decedent's "previous earning capacity, expected increases and decreases in earnings, and his apparent mentality, industry, and other qualities, as disclosed by the evidence."

The full value of life also includes an "intangible" element. It included "both the economic value of the deceased's normal life expectancy and the intangible element incapable of exact proof, such as the parent's society, advice, example and counsel."

For example, "the measure of damages is not a son's loss from his mother's absence, but the mother's loss from not being able to raise her son."

Brock v. Wedincamp, 555 S.E.2d 836 (2002) (from the Superior Court of Glynn County)


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