Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is often incomprehensible for surviving family members. If you have lost a loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to recover damages to support your family financially and hold negligent parties accountable for their actions.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
In Georgia, the surviving spouse of the decedent (deceased person) is first in line to file a wrongful death claim. If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse, their surviving children will be allowed to file the claim. If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse or children, the decedent’s parents will be next in line to file a claim. Finally, if the decedent does not have a surviving spouse, children, or parents, the administer of the decedent’s estate can move forward with the claim.
How long do surviving family members have to file a wrongful death claim?
In most cases, survivors have two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file their wrongful death claim. However, there are some exceptions. For example, a court may ‘toll’ the statute of limitations in cases involving ongoing criminal proceedings.
Proving a wrongful death claim
Most wrongful death claims require survivors to prove that their loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of another party. If a party is negligent, that means that they breached a duty owed to the decedent and that their breach of duty directly and proximately caused the decedent’s death. What constitutes as negligence will depend on the circumstances surrounding the accident. For example, in a case involving a fatal car accident, another driver’s negligence behind the wheel (e.g. speeding, driving while intoxicated, running a red light) may have caused the accident and the death of the decedent.
What damages can I recover?
In Georgia, there are two claims that stem from a wrongful death suit. The wrongful death claim, filed by surviving family members of the deceased, allows recovery for the ‘full value of the life of the deceased.’ The family can recover lost wages and other tangible expenses, as well as intangible expenses (e.g. loss of companionship).
The decedent’s estate can bring a claim to recover losses sustained by the estate due to the decedent’s death. The estate may recover damages to cover medical expenses of the decedent, funeral and burial costs, and pain and suffering of the decedent before their death.
Filing a wrongful death claim in Georgia can be overwhelming, particularly if you are still grieving the loss of your loved one. A personal injury attorney may assist you with every step of your case and help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.