Losing a loved one in an avoidable accident is absolutely devastating. While nothing can truly make up for this type of heartbreaking loss, Georgia law allows certain loved ones of the victim to file a wrongful death claim to get justice and much needed financial support for their family.
Unfortunately, not every person who was close to the victim has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. In fact, the state has strict regulations regarding who has the right to file a claim. Here, our wrongful death attorneys in Atlanta provide an overview of the most important things that you need to know about who can file a wrongful death claim in Georgia.
Everything You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Lawsuit Eligibility in Georgia
Under the Georgia wrongful death statute, there are very strict rules for who exactly has the legal right to bring a wrongful death claim. Generally, each wrongful death case in Georgia will fit into one of the following four categories.
- Surviving Spouse — No Kids: If the deceased has a surviving spouse and has no surviving children, then the surviving spouse is the only person who has the right to bring a wrongful death claim. In terms of eligibility, this is the most straightforward type of wrongful death claim: the surviving spouse is the only party with authority to bring the lawsuit.
- Surviving Spouse — Kids: If the deceased has a surviving spouse, and they also have surviving children, then the surviving spouse will be eligible to bring the wrongful death claim and they will also be required to act as a legal representative for the children. No matter how many children there are, the surviving spouse is guaranteed at least 30 percent of the total wrongful death recovery.
- No Surviving Spouse: If the victim does not have a surviving spouse, then the wrongful death claim rights will advance to their children. If they have no surviving spouse and no children, then the claim will advance to their parents. If the victim only has minor children, then a legal representative will be selected for the parents.
- No Surviving Spouse, Surviving Children, or Surviving Parents: If the victim has no surviving spouse, no surviving children, and no surviving spouse, then any wrongful death lawsuit must be brought by their personal estate. When this occurs, Georgia law (O.C.G.A § 51-4-5) mandates that any benefits recovered will be held for the next-of-kin.
You Have Limited Time to Bring a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim
If your loved one was killed in a preventable accident, it is crucial that you take immediate action to protect the rights of yourself and your family. Under Georgia law, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date that the death was reasonably discoverable by the plaintiffs.
In most cases, this means two years from the actual date of the death. Though, in certain cases where the family had no way to know their loved one was deceased, the statute of limitations may be extended. In either case, the best thing you can do to protect your rights is to consult with an experienced Newton County wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
Understanding Wrongful Death Damages
In wrongful death cases, the damages available to the family members of the victims are meant to account for their direct financial losses as well as their intangible losses. In most wrongful death cases, the largest share of damages covers non-economic losses. By their very nature, these damages are inherently difficult to put a precise dollar figure on.
Defendants and insurance companies can be aggressive when handling these claims — they often attempt to settle the case for the lowest amount that they can get away with. During this challenging time, you and your family need an experienced Georgia wrongful death attorney by your side. At MG Law, our wrongful death lawyers know how to hold negligent defendants and their insurers accountable. We can help you recover financial relief for:
- Out of pocket medical expenses;
- Funeral and burial cost;
- Lost wages and future earnings;
- Lost benefits, including loss of insurance coverage and loss of inheritance;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of love;
- Loss of support; and
- Loss of companionship/consortium.
Get Help From a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
At MG Law, our top-rated Georgia wrongful death attorneys are standing by, ready to fight for justice. We will take care of all of your legal issues, so that you focus on yourself and your family. To arrange a free, fully private wrongful death consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team today. With offices in Conyers, Covington, and Atlanta, we serve communities throughout the region.