In Georgia, the eligibility to file a wrongful death claim is specifically defined by state law. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to provide compensation to the surviving family members for the loss of their loved one due to the negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal actions of another party.

Here, our Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Ashby Thelen Lowry explain who may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia.

Wrongful Death

Who Is Eligible to File a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim?

The priority of people who can file a wrongful death claim exists to establish a transparent, orderly process for seeking justice and compensation after a loved one’s death, ensuring that those most affected by the loss are given the first opportunity to file.

This hierarchy reflects the relationships and dependencies typically recognized as the most significant, starting with the deceased’s immediate family members.

Surviving Spouse

  • Primary Right to File: The deceased person’s surviving spouse has the primary right to file a wrongful death claim.
  • Shared Recovery: If the deceased has surviving children, the spouse must share any recovery with them. However, the spouse is entitled to at least one-third of the total recovery, regardless of the number of children.

Surviving Children

  • Secondary Right to File: If there is no surviving spouse, the right to file a wrongful death claim passes to the surviving children of the deceased.
  • Equal Shares: The recovery is typically divided equally among the children.

Surviving Parents

  • If No Spouse or Children: If the deceased person did not have a surviving spouse or children, the surviving parents of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim.
  • Divided Recovery: If both parents are living, they generally share the recovery equally unless otherwise determined by a court.

Personal Representative of the Estate

  • When No Immediate Family: If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a wrongful death claim.
  • Beneficiaries: Any recovery obtained by the personal representative is held for the benefit of the deceased’s next of kin, as determined by Georgia’s laws of intestate succession.

Essential Considerations for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia

To succeed in a wrongful death claim, it must be proven that the negligence, recklessness, or intentional act of another party caused the death. This requires gathering substantial evidence, such as witness testimonies, medical records, and expert opinions.

Georgia law allows for the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages may include medical expenses, funeral costs, and the deceased’s lost wages and benefits. Non-economic damages cover the deceased’s pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and the emotional distress of surviving family members.

Finally, Georgia imposes a strict statute of limitations for wrongful death claims, typically two years from the date of the deceased’s death. Filing within this period is crucial to avoid losing the right to pursue compensation.

Given the complexities of wrongful death claims and the emotional burden on the family, consulting with our experienced attorneys can provide valuable guidance and help ensure the claim is handled correctly.

contact our skilled Atlanta wrongful death lawyers and support team at Ashby Thelen Lowry at (404) 777-7771 to schedule a free consultation. This initial step will ensure your rights are protected and enable you to make informed decisions about the direction of your claim.

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