A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit in which a private party is seeking monetary damages for the loss suffered from the death of a loved one. Georgia law defines wrongful death as death caused by the “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” acts of another person or entity. In the state of Georgia, a wrongful death claim is for the value of the life of the person whose life was cut short. The time limit, or statute of limitations, to file a wrongful death claim is generally two years after the death of the loved one. However, there are circumstances where the time period may be tolled (extended). If you have questions or are uncertain as to whether you have a claim, please call our Atlanta lawyers for a free consultation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The state of Georgia has developed a hierarchy of relatives that may sue for damages due to the wrongful death of a family member. At the top of this hierarchy is the spouse and children of that person. If the person is survived by a spouse and children, the spouse may file a claim on behalf of themselves and their children. The spouse may never recover less than one-third of the total damages, no matter how many children there may be. If no spouse survived, the children of the deceased person may bring the claim to court, and the recovery is split evenly among the children. Next in the hierarchy are the parents of the deceased, if there is no surviving spouse or children. Any surviving parent would then have the right to bring a wrongful death claim. Finally, if there are no surviving spouses, children, or parents, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may bring the claim. The recovery would then go to the person designated as next of kin under Georgia law.
Types of Damages Available Under Georgia Law
Georgia law recognizes damages under two distinct types of claims related to wrongful death cases. First, there is the wrongful death claim to establish the “full value of the life of the deceased,” which can be filed by surviving family members. Damages available under this category include lost wages and benefits (including future lost wages had the person survived) and loss of intangible benefits that the deceased provided such as care and companionship. The second type of claim, a survivor claim, is generally brought by the deceased person’s estate. Monetary damages available include medical expenses caused by the injury or incident resulting in death, funeral costs, and damages to remedy the pain and suffering sustained by the deceased.
If your family has suffered a loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another, please contact one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible. The attorneys at Goldstein and Hayes, P.C. are available to help you through this difficult time and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today for a free consultation.