Amid the grief and the financial repercussions of losing a loved one, pursuing legal action may be the last thing on your mind. However, in Georgia, you generally only have two years from the date your loved one died to file a lawsuit to hold the responsible party financially liable.
Depending on the circumstances, you may have even less time. Having a seasoned wrongful death attorney handle your legal case can allow you time to grieve, focus on your family, and pick up the pieces. Time can seem to move incredibly slowly or fast after losing a loved one.
Let our attorneys handle your legal matters while you rebuild your life. Importantly, if you do not file a wrongful death lawsuit within the time the statute of limitation allows, you can be barred forever from pursuing any such claim.
Below we discuss a general guide to Georgia’s wrongful death statute of limitations. Learn how our experienced Georgia wrongful death lawyers can assist you by contacting us online or calling (770) 988-5252 today.
Exceptions to Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Georgia
Like most things in law, there are exceptions to the general rules. While the statute of limitations for most wrongful death cases dictates that you must file your lawsuit within two years of the decedent’s death, some exceptions can shorten or lengthen that timeframe.
Claims against State and Local Government Agencies
For certain defendants, the statute of limitations may be shorter than two years.
When suing state or local governments, you must meet certain requirements and submit and serve certain forms on various parties. While checking with the particular government agency is essential, many suits must be filed within a year. A lawyer can help you identify the applicable agency, statute of limitations, and requirements.
For claims against the State of Georgia, you generally must provide written notice within 12 months of the date of your loved one’s death. City, county, and municipal government agencies may have specific statutes of limitations. For instance, in Atlanta, Georgia, if you believe the city itself may be responsible for the death, the claim must be made in writing within six months.
Lawsuits against government entities are extremely complicated, especially in Georgia. There are many ways to make a mistake and lose your right to pursue your case even if you are incredibly diligent in pursuing it. It is especially important in these kinds of cases to hire an attorney who knows how to handle these types of cases.
Exceptions Based on Circumstances
Some circumstances may warrant an extended opportunity to file a wrongful death lawsuit. For instance, if your loved one’s death resulted from criminal conduct and a criminal case is pending, you may have up to six years pending the outcome of the criminal case to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations will begin to run immediately upon resolution of the criminal matter.
The statute of limitations in a wrongful death lawsuit can also be extended to five years if your loved one did not have a will at their death. And if the surviving beneficiary is a minor at the time of their loved one’s death, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until they turn 18 and can be filed up until they turn 20.
Be Careful of Life Insurance Policies
Some life insurance policies will have specific limitation clauses which can limit the time for filing a wrongful death suit. Always carefully review any policies or ask your attorney to assist you.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Case in Georgia
Most states limit who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, and Georgia is no different. Under Georgia law, only a close relative, such as a spouse, child, or parent, can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The surviving spouse and children typically have the most rights to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The estate may file a wrongful death action if there is no close relative, such as a surviving spouse, child, or parent. In that case, the estate’s personal representative will bring the claim.
Wrongful death claims can typically seek the same damages as a personal injury lawsuit, including lost wages and reimbursement for medical expenses. However, wrongful death plaintiffs can also seek compensation for end-of-life expenses, funeral costs, and lost inheritance.
Contact our team at MG Law to find out if you can bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of your deceased loved one or learn more about potential damages. We are happy to answer all of your questions.
Contact an Experienced Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer for Help
At MG Law, we are focused on the needs of our clients every step of the way. We understand how difficult it is to grieve the loss of a loved one while simultaneously fighting for justice for their death, and we can help you understand and meet the wrongful death lawsuit statute of limitations.