Stephen Hasner | Wrongful death | December 28, 2022
If you have lost a loved one in a tragic accident, the last thing on your mind is whether you can sue for wrongful death. Unfortunately, the law lacks compassion for what you are going through and significantly limits the amount of time you have to file a claim and the individuals who have the right to file such a claim.
A compassionate Atlanta wrongful death lawyer can explain your legal rights and options and handle your case while you focus on grieving.
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Law
The Georgia wrongful death law states that certain survivors can file a wrongful death lawsuit if a person is killed by a wrongful act of another.
Wrongful acts include when the death is caused by any of the following:
- A crime
- Criminal negligence
- Ordinary negligence
- Defectively manufactured property
Under this law, eligible family members can make a claim for the “full value of the life of the decedent.” The full value of the decedent’s life is based on tangible and intangible losses.
Tangible losses are those that can be quantified, such as lost earnings the decedent would have earned had they not died. Intangible losses include the loss of companionship, affection, relationships, and enjoyment of life.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
The Georgia wrongful death law specifies who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, which includes the following individuals (in order):
If the person who died had a surviving spouse, that spouse usually has the right to file a wrongful death claim. If the person who died had a surviving spouse and surviving child, the surviving spouse is the only person who can legally bring the claim.
However, the surviving spouse must act as the child’s representative and share whatever compensation they receive with the child. The spouse is entitled to at least one-third of the recovery, regardless of how many children there are.
If there is no surviving spouse, the surviving children can bring the legal claim. If the decedent had a child who died before the decedent, that child’s children would be entitled to their parent’s share of any recovered award.
If the person who died had no surviving spouse or children, the parents or guardians of the decedent can bring the wrongful death claim. This is also the case if the person who died was a minor child.
If the person who died left behind no surviving spouse, child, or parent, the executor or administrator named in the decedent’s will can bring an action for the wrongful death. This claim is made for the benefit of the next of kin. Specifically, the executor can seek compensation for funeral, medical, and other necessary expenses resulting from the death.
If the decedent did not have a will, the intestacy laws determine who has the right to bring the claim. The laws of intestacy dictate who stands to inherit from someone who did not leave instructions in a valid will.
What Is the Time Limit To File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
Georgia’s statutes of limitations set out the time limits to file different types of civil claims. Wrongful death cases must typically be filed within two years of the victim’s death, per Georgia’s statute of limitations.
However, there are situations where there may be more or less time to file a wrongful death claim. Therefore, it’s important to talk to an experienced lawyer who can tell you the deadline based on the circumstances surrounding your claim.
Contact the Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers at Hasner Law, P.C. For Help
We serve Fulton County, Chatham County, and its surrounding areas: