What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Suit?

Posted on March 29, 2022

Individuals sometimes lose their lives as a result of the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of others. This includes the actions of other people, companies, or entities. However, there are specific elements that need to be present in order for a wrongful death claim to be successful. Here, we want to discuss what Georgia law says about wrongful death claims, who can file the case, and the types of compensation available.

What Georgia Law Says About Wrongful Death Claims

When we examine Georgia’s Wrongful Death Act, we can see that these claims can arise if a person loses their life due to the wrongful action of another individual, entity, or company (O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2). The law states that the family members of the deceased can make a claim for “the full value of the life of the decedent.”

Wrongful death claims can arise in a wide variety of ways throughout the state of Georgia. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Workplace accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Car accidents
  • Semi-truck accidents
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Aviation accidents
  • Defective product incidents
  • Negligent supervision of a child
  • Premises liability incidents
  • Intentional acts of violence, including shootings, stabbings, and assaults

What if There is a Criminal Case Against the At-Fault Party?

One of the most common questions how about wrongful death claims is what happens if the person is or is not facing criminal charges related to the death.

Criminal charges are completely different from civil wrongful death claims. Prosecutors are responsible for filing criminal charges against a person who takes the life of another individual. Family members are responsible for filing wrongful death claims in civil court against the alleged negligent party.

It is entirely possible for there to be both a civil wrongful death claim and criminal charges filed against the same individual for the same death. However, even if a person is found not guilty criminally or if the charges are dropped, they can still face a civil wrongful death claim brought by the family members. Additionally, individuals can face a civil wrongful death claim even if there are no criminal charges filed at all. Not all wrongful deaths are necessarily the result of criminal activities.

Can Any Family Member File a Wrongful Death Claim in GA?

In the state of Georgia, there are only certain family members eligible to file a wrongful death claim. State law sets out who is eligible to file these claims in the following order:

  • The spouse of the deceased
  • Surviving children of the deceased if there is no surviving spouse
  • Parents of the deceased if there is no surviving spouse or children
  • The administrator or executor of the deceased’s state if there are no surviving family members

We strongly encourage you to work with a skilled wrongful death attorney if you think you have a viable civil wrongful death claim in Georgia. An Atlanta wrongful death attorney can offer a free consultation and walk you through this entire process. Even though no amount of compensation will be able to erase the painful loss of losing your loved one, this can help bring closure to the situation and hold the other party accountable for their actions.