It’s not possible to place a value on a human life. Each human being is a unique miracle whose value is inestimable. Nevertheless, Georgia courts are often tasked with the impossible job of finding a way to compensate family members who have lost a loved one at the hands of another party’s negligence. As courts struggle with this, a monetary award is the only way they have of trying to make victims whole.

While keeping the above in mind, let’s look at the kinds of things Georgia courts look at when seeking to compensate close family members of people who were killed as a result of negligence:

Current and future contribution to family income

Some individuals are pulling a very large income, while others are earning minimum wage. In the case of a husband or wife, courts will try to determine what this person was earning at the time he or she died, and what his or her lifetime income was likely to be — when factoring in typical career trajectories and other information. By considering these points, the court will attempt to estimate the financial losses that the death of the family member has caused.

Contribution to household tasks and other services

A deceased family member likely contributed to the maintenance of the home as well as to the rearing of children, if any children were in the family. These services, like home maintenance, cleaning, cooking, laundry, driving, accounting and other tasks have real monetary value. If the family were to pay an assistant to replace the deceased individual, significant costs would be incurred and these costs extend long into the future.

Lost affection, lost companionship, lost parental relationship, lost sexual relationship and other intangible benefits

In addition to calculable losses, the loss of relationship also is a damage done to family members. Courts may try to award financial compensation even if it’s not possible to estimate it.

If your loved one died because of another party’s negligence or unlawful behavior, you might want to learn more about Georgia personal injury law to determine if you have the ability to pursue a wrongful death action.