November 12, 2020
Pitts Carr and Alex Weatherby
Georgia Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions
The Georgia wrongful death statute allows a deceased person’s family to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one. Here is a quick guide to the most frequently asked questions about the wrongful death statute in Georgia.
How Do You Bring a Case Arising out of a Wrongful Death?
There are two ways to bring a lawsuit after a wrongful death in Georgia.
Georgia Wrongful Death Statute
A wrongful death claim compensates a victim’s family members for the losses they have experienced as a result of the death. Brought by the surviving family of the deceased, a wrongful death claim allows recovery of “the full value of the life of the decedent.”
An estate claim, also known as a survival action, allows the victim’s estate to recover for losses the victim personally suffered prior to their death.
Damages in an estate claim may include medical bills, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering of the decedent. In Georgia, any claim for punitive damages must also be brought by the estate.
Who Can File a Claim Under the Georgia Wrongful Death Statute?
Georgia law has strict rules on who can bring a wrongful death claim. First in line are always surviving spouses and children.
If none of these survive, the person’s parents become the next claimants.
In other states, a wrongful death claim may be brought only by the administrator of the deceased person’s estate. The damages would then be distributed according to the person’s will, trust, or by probate law. Georgia is different.
The only time an Estate administrator can bring the claim for wrongful death is if the deceased left no surviving spouse, children, or parents. However, the administrator would be responsible to bring the claim for pain and suffering following the death.
What Compensation Is Available Under the Wrongful Death Statute in Georgia?
Under the Georgia wrongful death statute, the surviving family is allowed to make a claim for “the full value of the life of the decedent.” This is divided into two categories: tangible and intangible.
The intangible value refers to the experiences and relationships that the decedent lost by passing. This includes things like graduations, birthdays, weddings, vacations, but more broadly is about the joy of life, and the love and affection in relationships.
The tangible part involves the money that the deceased person would have earned through a salary and the economic value of their contributions to the family. Calculating the right amount of both tangible and intangible damages is often a complicated task. This is why hiring a Georgia personal injury attorney is important.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Generally, the Georgia wrongful death statute of limitations is two years. This means that you must bring your wrongful death claim within two years of the decedent’s death or risk losing your right to compensation. However, there are a few exceptions that may shorten or lengthen the time to file a claim.
It is a good idea to consult with an attorney to determine the precise time you have to follow based on your individual circumstances.
Call the Personal Injury Team at Carr & Weatherby Today
Our firm has years of experience handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims and has a track record of successful decisions for our clients. We have represented both plaintiffs and defendants in wrongful death cases, so we can fight for you.
Contact us by calling 404-442-9000 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.