Georgia’s Wrongful Death Statute

Posted on February 17, 2022

Losing a loved one is an incredibly emotional and draining experience. If your loved one lost their life due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual or entity in Georgia, you will likely be able to recover compensation for your losses. Here, we want to discuss Georgia’s wrongful death statute so you understand the claims process moving forward. We strongly encourage you to speak to a skilled wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

Understanding Georgia’s Wrongful Death Law

When we examine the wrongful death law in Georgia (O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2), we can see that if an individual loses their life due to the wrongful act of another company or person, then the family members of the deceased have the right to file a wrongful death claim in civil court. Under the Georgia Wrongful Death Act, the family of the deceased can make a claim for “the full value of the life of the decedent.”

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?

The Georgia wrongful death statute sets out stringent rules about who can file a claim. If the deceased left behind a surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse is the only individual who has the authority to file a claim in civil court. If there are also surviving children, then the surviving spouse is required to act as a representative of the children and share any damage awards with them. However, the spouse can never receive less than one-third of the total damage recovery, no matter how many children there are.

Unlike other states, the individual who files the wrongful death claim does not have to be an executor, personal representative, or administrator of the deceased’s estate in order to file the claim. The only time administrator of an estate can bring a wrongful death claim is if the deceased left no surviving spouse, children, or parents.

Time Limit to File a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim

Under Georgia law, the wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. However, depending on the circumstances, this timeframe could be longer or shorter.

For example, if the at-fault party is a branch of government or a government employee in Georgia, the deadline could be shorter than this two-year timeframe. Depending on the situation, the wrongful death claim may need to be filed as soon as six months to a year after the incident occurs.

If an individual loses their life due to a violation of Georgia law (violation of traffic law, violent crime, etc.), then the statute of limits may be paused (tolled) pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.

Compensation Recoverable by Family Members

There may be various types of compensation available to surviving family members of the deceased as a result of a successful wrongful death claim. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Any pre-death medical bills
  • Loss of inheritance the deceased would have provided
  • Loss of medical benefits, including a pension plan or medical insurance
  • Loss of services the deceased would have provided to the house, including maintenance and cleaning
  • Loss of future earnings the deceased would have provided had they lived
  • Loss of consortium for a spouse
  • Mental anguish or pain and suffering of the deceased’s loved ones
  • Loss of companionship, society, and love the deceased would have provided

Please Contact a Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney

We strongly encourage you to reach out to a skilled wrongful death lawyer in Georgia who can help you handle every aspect of these claims. These are complicated civil lawsuits, but an Atlanta wrongful death attorney will stand by your side, handle the investigation, and negotiate to recover fair compensation for your losses.