Unfortunately, many spouses or families in Georgia find themselves faced with the death of a loved one caused by the negligent, careless, or even criminal acts of another person or party. This is known as a wrongful death case, and in the State of Georgia, there are certain rules for how to handle a wrongful death claim with the highest financial recovery in mind.
Here’s what you need to know about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia, including who can file a claim and how it works.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to let a living family member file a case on behalf of a deceased victim. In Georgia, the law only allows specific people to represent the deceased in a wrongful death case.
Spouse of the Deceased
The first person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is the spouse of the deceased, if they were married. The spouse can also file the suit on behalf of any children of the deceased who are under 18. Either way, the spouse is entitled to at least one-third of the full financial recovery from the wrongful death claim.
Parents of the Deceased
If the deceased person was not married, did not have a surviving spouse, and didn’t have any children, any surviving parents can file the claim.
The wrongful death claim can also be filed by a designated representative of the deceased’s estate. Then, any damages won will go to the deceased’s estate and distributed to their surviving next-of-kin.
What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There are two ways wrongful death claims can be filed in Georgia, and each focuses on different types of damages. The first type of wrongful death claim is the most common brought by (or on behalf of) the deceased’s surviving family members. This wrongful death claim takes into account the full value of the deceased person’s life, including:
- financial losses like lost wages and benefits the deceased person may have earned if they had lived
- intangible losses like loss of companionship, care, or other benefits family members would have otherwise received from the deceased person
The second type of wrongful death claim is typically brought by (or on behalf of) the deceased person’s estate. This claim, known as an estate claim, aims to make up financial losses related to the person’s death. Those damages include:
- Medical costs for treatment of the victim’s past injuries or illnesses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Pain and suffering the deceased endured before they died
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
Under Georgia’s statute of limitations, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years from the date of the deceased’s death. It’s very important to file before this deadline, as trying to file a claim after the two-year period is usually impossible.
There can be exceptions to this. If a criminal case related to the same events as the wrongful death claim is in court, time is suspended until the criminal case is completed. In that case, the time to file becomes longer. This typically happens if the person was killed because a Georgia law was violated, such as in a traffic violation, violent crime, or drunk driving accident.
Also, if the deceased person’s estate does not have an established will, the statute of limitations can be put on hold for up to five years.
Despite the exceptions, it’s best to hire a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible because it all depends on your unique circumstances. Plus, two years might seem like a long time, but it can go fast—and the time in between will need to be spent wisely to ensure you seek the best financial recovery.
Talk to a Wrongful Death Lawyer for Free Today
If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person or a business, don’t suffer alone—and make sure your loved one’s rights are upheld. At John Foy & Associates, our attorneys have been helping loved ones file wrongful death claims for 20+ years. We are experienced, compassionate, and ready to help you seek the financial recovery you need. We know money can never make up for a lost life. However, we’ve found it can help surviving family members cover expenses and work on moving on from the accident. For a FREE consultation with one of our wrongful death lawyers, call us today at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form to the right.