Who Is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
A wrongful death is one caused by negligent, reckless or intentional actions. Such a tragedy is one of the most horrific experiences a family can go through. Georgia law allows certain relatives of a wrongful death victim to file a civil lawsuit to recover financial compensation for their losses. Also, the estate representative can file a separate suit for the injuries suffered by the decedent.
While an unexpected death affects many people left behind, Georgia law limits who may file a wrongful death claim. Only the following people can sue, in this order of priority:
- The surviving spouse
- Adult children, if the decedent was not married at the time of death
- Parents, if the decedent had no spouse or children
- The estate representative, if the decedent had no spouse, children or parents
If the person died leaving a spouse and children, then the surviving spouse files the wrongful death claim and shares the compensation with the children.
If the person who died was under the age of 18, a wrongful death claim can be filed by his or her parents, adoptive parents or guardian. Each receives a portion of any compensation recovered. Even if the parents are divorced, they are required to share the compensation with each other.
In a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff can recover compensation for:
- Their financial losses, such as being deprived of the decedent’s future earning capacity
- Their non-financial losses, including loss of companionship, loss of consortium and mental and emotional anguish
In addition to a wrongful death lawsuit brought by relatives, the victim’s estate can file an independent claim, called an estate claim, to recover damages for:
- Medical bills associated with treating the victim’s injuries before they ultimately passed away
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased before death
- Fright, shock and terror experienced by the victim in the seconds leading up to the fatal event
Estate claims are filed by the personal representative of the estate. If the deceased had a will, this person is most likely named in that document. If there is no will, then the probate court can appoint a personal representative. Compensation awarded in estate claims goes to the estate and is then distributed to family members in accordance with Georgia law.
The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan, Georgia works to win financial compensation for families grieving the loss of loved ones due to wrongful death. Please contact my office by calling 470-344-8550 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation.