Georgia Wrongful Death FAQ
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia:
What is wrongful death?
“Wrongful death” is a claim against an individual or organization that can be held liable for an unnecessary death due to misconduct or negligence. Examples of wrongful deaths include deaths caused by drunk or reckless drivers, deaths caused by defective products, and deaths caused by a doctor’s misdiagnosis.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Survivors of the victim, including parents, spouses, and children, may be eligible to file wrongful death lawsuits. Minors, however, will likely need an adult guardian in order to file suit. Sometimes, additional family members such as grandparents may be eligible to file wrongful death lawsuits.
In Georgia, a surviving spouse who sues for wrongful death must share the recovery equally with surviving children. In the case of a minor child, the child's share up to $15,000 may be held by the child's natural guardian without posting a bond. If the minor’s share of recovery is more than $15,000, a guardian of the child must be qualified in probate court, and a bond must be posted. If the probate court approves a structured settlement with annuity payments going to the child after attaining age 18, with the cash held by the child's natural guardian remaining less than $15,000, the bond requirement may be avoided.
In the case of no surviving spouse, the right to sue for wrongful death goes to surviving children. In the case of no surviving spouse or child, the decedent’s parents have the right to sue for wrongful death under Georgia law. When the parents are separated, the court can allocate any wrongful death recovery between them. In some cases, depending on relevant circumstances, one parent may be awarded the majority of the recovery.
What kind of financial compensation can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit?
If a wrongful death can be proven, survivors may be able to achieve recovery for:
- Medical costs
- Funeral costs
- Lost wages (including anticipated future earnings)
- Lost benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Lost companionship
- Lost care or protection
- General and punitive damages
In Georgia, survivors may sue for the “full value of life,” which is determined by the jury. Unlike some other states, Georgia does not impose a limit on damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death case.
What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Georgia?
In Georgia, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of the death. Once the statute of limitation expires, your claim will be denied. It’s important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Georgia has a complicated wrongful death statute that dates to pre Civil War times. Because of the antiquated, awkward language of the statute, it’s important to hire an attorney who is highly familiar with this statute and its potential interpretations.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a wrongful death, you may have mixed feelings about suing for recovery. Keep in mind that a wrongful death lawsuit is often the only way to penalize the party at fault for the death of your loved one. Consider what your loved one would want you to do.
If you have any further questions about wrongful death in Georgia, contact MLN Law at (404) 531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.