Wrongful Death Lawyer
When a loved one dies because of another person’s careless or unlawful conduct, family members may be entitled to sue for wrongful death. In Georgia, compensation for wrongful death reflects the full value of the victim’s life.
Georgia law specifies the individual family members who can bring a wrongful death claim. Other family members may be entitled to share the proceeds of the claim. Proceeds are distributed according to a formula that considers whether the victim was married, and how many children the victim had, at the time of the victim’s death.
Georgia law assures that someone is always able to bring a wrongful death claim. If the victim had no relatives who are authorized to bring the claim, the victim’s estate can do so. The estate might also be entitled to make a related claim known as a survival claim.
Who Can Bring a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim When the Victim Had a Spouse and/or Children?
If the deceased accident victim was married at the time of death, the victim’s surviving spouse is authorized to commence the wrongful death lawsuit. Although the spouse brings the claim, the victim’s children share in the distribution of wrongful death compensation.
If the victim’s surviving spouse declines to bring the claim or is incapable of bringing it, the victim’s children will usually be entitled to do so. Also, if the spouse brings the claim but dies before it is resolved, the victim’s children can take over responsibility for the claim.
If the victim was not married at the time of death, the Georgia Code authorizes any child of the victim to bring a wrongful death claim. If that child dies before the claim is resolved, any other child can take that child’s place.
Who Can Bring a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim When the Victim Had No Spouse or Children?
If the victim had no living spouse or child at the time of death, the victim’s parents can bring a wrongful death claim. They can bring the claim jointly if they are still married. If one parent has died, the other parent can bring the claim.
If the parents have divorced or separated, each parent has the right to bring the claim. If one parent refuses, the other parent can bring the claim on behalf of both parents.
If no spouse, child, or parent is alive at the time of the victim’s death, the victim’s estate can bring the claim. The estate’s administrator is responsible for initiating the claim.
If the victim had a Will, the personal representative named in the Will is usually appointed as the administrator. If the victim had no Will, the probate court appoints an administrator according to Georgia law.
Who Can Bring a Survival Action in Georgia After a Wrongful Death?
Victims who are wrongfully injured can recover compensation for pain and suffering from the person who caused the injuries. When those injuries cause the victim’s death, the victim’s estate can pursue the victim’s claim for pain and suffering.
The victim’s pain and suffering claim is said to “survive” the victim’s death. The estate’s “survival” claim includes compensation for other losses the victim incurred because of the wrongful act, including medical expenses and lost wages.
If the administrator of the estate is also authorized to bring a wrongful death claim, the survival claim and the wrongful death claim will typically be brought in the same lawsuit with the assistance of a wrongful death lawyer. Even if the wrongful death claim is brought by a relative rather than the estate, it will usually be joined with the estate’s survival claim if the victim did not die instantly.