If a person loses their life due to the negligent or criminal actions of another individual or entity, surviving family members and the estate of the deceased may be eligible to recover compensation for their losses. However, it is crucial to understand who can actually file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. We strongly encourage you or a loved one to reach out to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible if you believe you have a case against another party for the loss of your loved one.
Filing a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim – Who Can do It?
The state of Georgia places strict limitations on who is allowed to file a wrongful death claim (Ga. Code § 51-4-2). There are generally only four groups of individuals allowed to file a claim after a person loses their life due to the negligence of another. This includes:
- Spouse of the deceased. If the individual was married, then their spouse will typically have the first right to file a wrongful death claim in civil court. However, this does not include former spouses if the individual was divorced at the time of their death.
- Children of the deceased. If the deceased individual has no surviving spouse, then their children are allowed to file a wrongful death claim in court. It is important to understand that children can only file a wrongful death claim if there is no surviving spouse.
- Parents of the deceased. In the event the individual has no surviving spouse or surviving children, then a surviving parent or both parents are allowed to file a wrongful death claim.
- Representative of the estate. In the event there’s no surviving spouse or no surviving children or parents, then the personal representative or executor of the estate is allowed to file the wrongful death claim. In these instances, any compensation recovered through a successful claim will be held by the estate and distributed to the next of kin of the deceased.
In the state of Georgia, other surviving family members, such as grandparents or siblings, are not allowed to file wrongful death claims in court. If a sibling or other relative wishes to file a lawsuit, their best option is to speak with one of the other members of the family who has the right to file a lawsuit about the options moving forward.
Should You Work With an Attorney?
Wrongful death claims in Georgia can be incredibly challenging to move forward with, particularly without an attorney. It is not uncommon for the alleged negligent party to have their own legal team to defend them against these allegations. In order for a wrongful death claim to find success, there will likely need to be an extensive investigation into the death. A wrongful death lawyer in Georgia will likely be able to take the case on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not owe any legal fees until after they successfully recover the compensation you are entitled to.
A personal injury attorney in Newnan will use their own resources to fully investigate every aspect of the claim and handle all communication or negotiation with other parties involved. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another individual or entity, we encourage you to at least seek out a free consultation with an attorney so you can understand some of your options moving forward.