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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The Harding Law Firm, LLC
Wrongful Death words on Wooden blocks

Losing a loved one is always a painful experience, but when that loss is due to someone else's negligence or intentional actions, the pain can be compounded by feelings of injustice and anger. During such challenging times, understanding your legal rights can offer a path toward justice and closure. 

The personal injury attorneys at Harding Law Firm, LLC, located in Griffin, Georgia, serves as a trusted resource for families with wrongful death claims. Led by Attorney Todd A. Harding, the firm has extensive experience serving clients throughout Spalding County, Butts County, Monroe County, Lamar County, and Henry County. This guide aims to provide valuable insights into who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. 

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

A wrongful death lawsuit seeks justice and compensation for the survivors of an individual who has died due to someone else's negligence, intentional misconduct, or recklessness. Unlike other personal injury claims that the injured party files themselves, wrongful death claims are brought forth by the family members or representatives of the deceased. 

Wrongful death can arise from various unfortunate circumstances, including: 

  • Medical malpractice

  • Workplace accidents

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia? 

In Georgia, the law specifies who has the standing to sue in wrongful death cases. The concept of "standing to sue" refers to the legal right of an individual to bring a lawsuit to court.

This ensures that only those directly affected by the loss have the authority to seek legal recourse and compensation for their suffering.

In Georgia, the individuals who are eligible to file a wrongful death claim include: 

Surviving Spouse 

The spouse of the deceased has the primary right to file a wrongful death claim, as they are often the closest and most affected party by the death. If there are surviving children, the spouse represents their interests as well, distributing any compensation awarded fairly among them. This arrangement helps maintain family unity and provides financial support to those dependent on the deceased. 

Surviving Children 

If there is no surviving spouse, the decedent's children have the right to file a lawsuit. All children, regardless of age, share this right equally. This means that both minor and adult children can seek compensation for the loss of their parent. The law recognizes the profound impact the death of a parent can have on their children, not just emotionally but also financially and in terms of guidance and support. 

Surviving Parents  

In cases where the decedent was unmarried and childless, the parents may file a wrongful death suit. Losing a child, regardless of their age, is an indescribable tragedy for any parent. The law provides this avenue to help parents seek justice and compensation for their loss, acknowledging the deep bond and impact the deceased had on their lives. 

Estate Administrator or Executor

Even in the absence of close family members, the deceased's estate can still seek justice and potentially provide financial support to distant relatives or designated beneficiaries.  

If no immediate family members are available, the administrator or executor of the deceased person's estate can file the claim. The executor is responsible for managing the deceased’s estate and ensuring that any compensation awarded goes to the deceased’s next of kin as outlined by the estate plan or state intestacy laws.  

By clearly outlining who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, Georgia's laws aim to empower the right parties to seek justice and honor the memory and legacy of the deceased appropriately. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?

In Georgia, the law typically requires that a wrongful death lawsuit be filed within two years from the date of the death. However, there are certain situations where this time frame can be extended, known as "tolling": 

  • Criminal cases: If the death resulted from a crime, the statute of limitations is suspended until the criminal case is completed, up to a maximum of six years. 

  • Unprobated estates: If the deceased person's estate has not been probated, the statute of limitations can be tolled for up to five years.  

Types of Damages Available in Georgia

Georgia's wrongful death statute focuses on providing two main types of damages: 

  • The full value of the life of the deceased: This encompasses both economic and non-economic values, including lost wages, benefits, and the intangible aspects like companionship and care that the deceased provided.  

  • Funeral and burial expenses: The claim may also cover reasonable expenses related to the burial and funeral services. 

It's important to consult with a qualified attorney if you are considering filing a wrongful death claim. The personal injury attorneys at Harding Law Firm handle these sensitive cases with care, protecting your rights and pursuing the justice and compensation you deserve. If you need assistance or have questions about your specific case, don't hesitate to reach out.  

Next Steps for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

If you are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia, here are the steps you should follow: 

  1. Consult an attorney: Schedule a consultation with the personal injury attorneys at Harding Law Firm, LLC to discuss the specifics of your case. 

  1. Gather documentation: Collect all relevant documentation, including medical records, accident reports, and any evidence of negligence or wrongdoing. 

  1. File the claim: Your attorney will file the wrongful death claim on your behalf, meeting all the appropriate legal requirements. 

  1. Prepare for court: Work with your attorney to prepare for court proceedings, including gathering witness testimonies and expert opinions. 

  1. Seek compensation: Aim for a fair settlement that compensates for lost wages, benefits, companionship, medical expenses, and other damages. 

Contact The Harding Law Firm for Legal Representation in Your Wrongful Death Case

If you believe you have a wrongful death claim, don't hesitate to seek legal advice. The personal injury attorneys at Harding Law Firm, LLC provide compassionate and professional legal representation, handling your case with the utmost care and diligence. Having an experienced attorney by your side can significantly increase the chances of a successful outcome.  

By understanding your rights and the legal processes involved, you can find a path forward during this difficult time. The attorneys at Harding Law Firm, LLC are here to support you every step of the way. Contact Harding Law Firm to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward justice and closure.