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Who Is Eligible for Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia?

By Grant Law Office on December 17, 2020

Losing a loved one is a difficult event to go through, especially if the loss was sudden, and even more so if it was caused by an act of negligence. Unfortunately, to add to the emotional trauma of losing a family member, many families are left in financial ruin, having to pay out thousands for funeral expenses and medical bills, on top of having to figure out how to make ends meet with one fewer breadwinner in the house. That is where a wrongful death claim comes in. These claims help families recover financially after the loss of a loved one, but not just anyone is allowed to file a wrongful death claim.

What Is Wrongful Death?

It is a sad fact that people die all the time. So why are some survivors allowed to file for wrongful death claims? Well, “wrongful death” is a specific legal term that is used to refer to any person’s death that was caused by another person’s negligence. The idea is that, without that act of negligence, the death would not have happened, making it “wrongful.” So a civil lawsuit can be filed against the party that was responsible for the act of negligence that led to the wrongful death.

For example, if a pedestrian was crossing the street at a designated crosswalk, and a driver hit him, despite there being a red light telling the driver to stop, and the collision resulted in the pedestrian’s death, then that would be considered a wrongful death. In that case, the pedestrian’s family could file a claim against the driver. Why? Well, the driver should have known to stop, as the pedestrian was legally allowed to cross and there was a red light. By not stopping, the driver committed an act of negligence, and without that negligence, the pedestrian would not have died. However, not just anyone can legally file a wrongful death claim.

Determining Who Is Eligible

When someone is injured in an accident that was not their fault, they can usually file a personal injury claim on order to receive proper compensation. However, if a person loses his life, he is clearly unable to file a claim on his own behalf. In such a case, select members of the deceased’s family can file a claim instead. However, Georgia is strict on who is eligible to file for a wrongful death claim. Parties allowed to file for wrongful death include:

  • The deceased’s spouse
  • The deceased’s children
  • (If there are no surviving spouses or children) the deceased’s parents
  • (If there are no surviving parents) a representative of the deceased’s estate

The compensation claimed by the deceased’s representative can be used for the benefit of the deceased’s next of kin. This means that even if you are not on the list above, if you are the next of kin, then you may still be in a position to receive compensation. However, you would not be the one to actually file the claim, unless you were made the representative.

Georgia Law and Wrongful Death Claims

As with personal injury claims, wrongful death claims in Georgia are under a strict statute of limitations. This means that the claim must be filed within a set amount of time, otherwise it will no longer be considered legally valid. In the case of wrongful death, the statute of limitations is two years from the day that the family member passed away. However, there are a few scenarios where the statute of limitations may be extended. This most commonly happens if there is a criminal case pending against the liable party. For example, if the at-fault party killed your loved one while driving drunk, then she would likely face criminal charges before you could file a claim against her. In such a case, the statute of limitations would be put on hold to ensure that it did not run out before you could file your claim.

However, you should never count on the statute of limitations being paused or extended. Two years may seem like a long time, but mourning the loss of a family member and trying to recover financially can make time pass quickly. If you have lost a loved one to someone else’s negligence, then it is in your best interest to act as quickly as possible. You best bet for compensation is to call the Grant Law Office to speak with an experienced attorney about your case. Contact us at (404) 995-3955 or toll-free (866) 249-5513 to set your free consultation today.

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