How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia
Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience. If you are grieving the sudden loss of a spouse, child, or parent, filing a lawsuit is probably the last thing on your mind. However, Georgia law does allow surviving family members to sue if their loved ones died because of another’s negligent or intentional acts. It’s important to know your rights when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim in Georgia.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia – Understanding the Lawsuit
When someone’s actions (or lack of actions) causes another person’s death, this can be considered a wrongful death. Under Georgia law, a wrongful death occurs when one person dies because of the fault of another person, by negligence, recklessness, medical malpractice, defective product(s), or an intentional, criminal act. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary compensation for the deceased’s immediate family or estate.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia – Financial Compensation
Wrongful death claims are designed to help families move forward by providing critical financial support and compensation. In Georgia, there are two types of financial losses that can be sought in a wrongful death claim. The first is the full value of the life of the decedent, which includes lost wages, benefits, and services (the money the person would have earned over their lifetime). This can also include lost care, companionship, counsel, and advice. The second category helps compensate the person’s estate for financial losses related to their death. This includes emotional pain and suffering, medical expenses, as well as funeral and burial expenses.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia – Who Can File
Georgia law places restrictions on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. There is a hierarchy of eligibility:
- Surviving Spouse
- Surviving Children (biological or adopted)
- The Deceased’s Parent(s)
No other family members (ex: siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles) are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. If there are no surviving spouses, children, or parents, then the deceased’s estate executor may bring a wrongful death claim. Any damages recovered would be held by the estate, with the compensation going to the deceased’s next of kin.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia – Filing the Lawsuit
While every case can differ, depending on the circumstances, the general process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit is:
- Working with an attorney to gather evidence and build your case
- Negotiating a potential settlement or resolution with the at-fault party and their legal team
- Should negotiations fail, preparing for trial and meeting with the judge
- Arguing your wrongful death case in front of a judge or jury
Working with an attorney who is experienced in wrongful death claims will ensure that you have the proper evidence and documentation prepared, that someone will advocate on your behalf, and that the at-fault party will be held responsible.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia – Statute of Limitations
In Georgia, the party who wants to file a wrongful death claim has a limited time in which to do so. This is called the statute of limitations. Generally, the party has two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. This time limit may be slightly shorter or longer, depending on the circumstances surrounding the death and the nature of the claim. If the party does not file within the two-year statute of limitations, their legal right to file a lawsuit is almost always lost.
Have Additional Questions?
No amount of money can ever replace a loved one. While it may be painful or stressful to consider legal issues during your grieving process, it’s important for surviving family members to consider their financial futures. At Burrow & Associates, we can protect your legal rights, advocate on your behalf, and help hold the at-fault party responsible for their actions. If you have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, or want to schedule a consultation, please reach out to our team for help. You can contact us at (678) 323-2394. We offer free consultations and have six offices conveniently located in Duluth, Athens, Gainesville, Conyers, Kennesaw, and Morrow.