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Who Has the Right to Sue for Wrongful Death?

January 10, 2024Wrongful Death

The loss of a loved one is an experience that no amount of compensation can truly make right. Yet, when the loss is due to someone else’s fault, pursuing a wrongful death claim can be a crucial step toward seeking justice and closure. However, only certain people with established relationships with the deceased may pursue this claim on their behalf.

What Is a Wrongful Death under Georgia Law?

In Georgia, wrongful death is recognized when a person’s death results from another’s actions. Essentially, if the deceased had lived, they would have been able to seek damages themselves by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Wrongful death claims are an extension of the deceased person’s rights, which are now exercised on their behalf by eligible family members or representatives.

The death could have been caused by several acts, including but not limited to:

By pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving family can recover compensation for the full value of the life of the decedent, encompassing damages such as lost wages, care, companionship, advice, counsel, and services. The deceased person’s estate may be reimbursed for any final medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and any other damages resulting from the death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?

Georgia’s laws specify a clear hierarchy of people who are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Primarily, this right is granted to the deceased’s surviving spouse. In cases where there is no spouse, the right passes to the deceased’s children.

If the deceased is survived neither by a spouse nor children, their parents are eligible to file the claim. In the absence of these immediate family members, the responsibility to file a wrongful death claim falls to the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate.

What If No One Is Able to File the Claim?

In Georgia, no other family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit outside of the individuals listed above. This includes siblings, grandparents, cousins, or any other relative who is not the executor of the deceased’s estate. Typically, this individual is named in the deceased’s will.

If the deceased didn’t designate an executor or did not leave a will behind, the court may appoint one on their behalf. This individual would then be eligible to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. However, any damages that they recover are not for their own benefit, but are held by the estate for the benefit of the deceased person’s next of kin.

Discuss Your Options with a Wrongful Death Attorney

After the loss of a loved one, the emotional and legal complexities can be overwhelming. This is where the guidance of a wrongful death attorney becomes invaluable. An attorney specializing in these cases brings not only a deep understanding of Georgia’s legal framework but also the resources that you need to seek justice for your loved one.

Your attorney will work tirelessly to ensure your loved one’s story is heard and that the at-fault party is held accountable for their actions. From evaluating the merits of your claim to handling negotiations and courtroom proceedings, an attorney can take care of the legal aspects and give you the space to grieve and heal. Contact a Georgia wrongful death lawyer today to discuss your path forward.