There are few things harder to cope with in life than the loss of a loved one. This is especially true when a loved one dies due to a preventable accident. If a person dies due to the wrongful conduct of someone else, family members of the victim generally have the right to bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible party or parties. A lawsuit can never replace what was lost, but under law, certain family members are entitled to fair compensation in these cases based on the “full value of the life of the decedent.”
Georgia wrongful death claims are governed by The Official Code of Georgia Title 51 Chapter 4. These are claims made by family members that are intended to compensate them for their own loss. Wrongful death claims are usually brought alongside so-called survival claims that are made by the decedent’s estate. Survival claims are intended to provide compensation to a victim’s estate for any pain and suffering endured by the victim because of the wrongful conduct.
Only Certain Family Members Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit
There are strict limitations on which family members can bring a wrongful death claim. Under Georgia law, the following persons are entitled to bring a claim:
If there is a surviving spouse, they are entitled to bring the claim at the exclusion of all others;
If there is no surviving spouse, surviving children may bring the claim at the exclusion of all others;
If there is no surviving spouse or children, surviving parents may bring the claim at the exclusion of all others; and
If none of the above family members are alive, the claim can only be made by the estate.
Wrongful Death and Survival Action Damages
Survival claims are brought by the administrator of a decedent’s estate whereas wrongful death claims are brought by family members of a victim in their own right. Wrongful death claims compensate family members for things like loss of companionship, loss of shared income, and loss of services that the decedent provided. A survival claim compensates the decedent’s estate for things like medical and funeral expenses, and also for any pain and suffering that the decedent endured.
The Statute of Limitations
Wrongful death claims must be made within the timeframe set out by the Georgia Statute of Limitations. Under this law, wrongful death actions must generally be brought within two years of the date of the death. After two years from the date of death passes, a claim is generally completely barred. For this reason, it is important for family members to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, to Discuss Your Case
The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, are dedicated to helping Georgia clients get the compensation they deserve when they have lost a loved one due to the wrongful conduct of someone else. If you would like more information or would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, at (404) 389-1035 today to schedule a free consultation.