Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death In Georgia?

Posted on April 25, 2022

Family members who have lost a loved one due to the negligent or intentional actions of another individual or entity in Georgia often wonder what options they have moving forward. In many cases, the estate of the deceased and the family members may be able to recover closure and compensation for their losses. However, we need to specifically look at what the law in Georgia says about who can file a wrongful death claim.

What Georgia’s Wrongful Death Law Says

When we examine Georgia law, we can see that wrongful death claims can arise in “all cases in which the death of a human being results from a crime, from criminal or other negligence, or from property which has been defectively manufactured, whether or not as the result of negligence” Ga. Code § 51-4-1 (2021).

Wrongful death claims arise in a variety of ways throughout the state of Georgia, including vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, medical mistakes, defective product incidents, intentional acts of violence, and more. If you are unsure of whether or not your loved one lost their life as a result of the actions of another individual or entity, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney to discuss your case as soon as possible. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

It is important to know who can actually file a wrongful death claim in court. Georgia law says that the following individuals are allowed to file wrongful death claims, in this order:

  • The spouse of the deceased
  • Surviving children of the deceased, if there is no spouse
  • The parents of the deceased, if there is no surviving spouse or children
  • The administrator or executor of the deceased individual’s estate, if there is no spouse, children, or parents who can file

Under Georgia law, no other family member is allowed to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. This includes siblings or grandparents. If a personal representative or executor of the estate files a claim, any damages covered will be held by the estate for the benefit of the deceased individual’s next of kin, which will be determined by the last will and testament or probate proceedings.

What Compensation is Available?

There may be various types of compensation available to survivors, the estate, and the next of kin. This includes, but is not limited to, the following economic and non-economic damages:

  • Any lost wages, benefits, or services that the deceased would likely have earned had they lived.
  • Last care, companionship, advice, and council the deceased would have provided.
  • Medical expenses related to the deceased individual’s last injury or illness.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Any other necessary expenses resulting from the individual’s injury or illness and death.

It is crucial for surviving family members and/or the estate of the deceased to file these claims as soon as possible. In Georgia, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years from the date of death. If a lawsuit is not filed within this two-year time frame, it is very likely that any claim will be dismissed by the court. There are various reasons why the two-year clock could be paused, and we strongly encourage you to reach out to a skilled wrongful death attorney in Atlanta as soon as possible to discuss these circumstances.