According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-4-2, the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim in Georgia. Wrongful death, a type of civil case in which families can seek financial recovery for the loss of their loved one, can only be filed under certain circumstances.
The Legal Information Institute (LII) defines wrongful death as an accidental or intentional death caused by the act of another. Therefore, the victim must have lost their life due to another party’s negligence for families to file wrongful death claims.
These claims serve the purpose of recovering economic resources that make up for the income of the decedent and the emotional support they provided to the family during their lifetime.
The Court May Need to Appoint a Personal Representative
If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse, child, or parent to pursue a wrongful death claim on their behalf, another person may petition the court to be appointed the personal representative of the victim’s estate.
The personal representative, also known as the executor, must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind to hold this position, and they must be officially appointed by a probate court, which handles all matters relevant to the management of estates after an individual’s death, to move forward with a wrongful death claim.
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Other Roles of the Personal Representative in Georgia Wrongful Death Cases
In addition to filing wrongful death cases, personal representatives have the significant obligation of settling the estate in its entirety. Some of these responsibilities may include:
- Collecting and securing all personal documentation
- Keeping an inventory of the estate’s assets to determine their value
- Paying debts and taxes with funds collected from the estate
- Contacting next of kin and distributing assets, as required by law
The management of a loved one’s estate often involves a lengthy and complicated process, but a lawyer can help you pursue your wrongful death claim so you can focus your attention on other duties relating to settling the victim’s estate.
Instances that May Constitute a Wrongful Death Case
In order to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia, your loved one must have lost their life as the direct result of a crime or an act of negligence.
Negligence consists of four major factors, each of which must be met to hold someone responsible for the victim’s death.
- The party must have had a responsibility to keep the victim safe from harm within reason.
- The party must have breached their obligation to the victim by acting carelessly or failing to intervene to prevent harm from occurring.
- The breach of the party’s duty to the victim must have resulted in their death.
- The victim’s death must have resulted in substantial damages.
A lawyer can determine whether the liable party’s actions meet the qualifications for negligence, which may include various instances, such as:
- Car accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Nursing home abuse
- Dog bites
If your loved one’s death resulted from someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death case.
Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
Award amounts and the types of damages families receive in wrongful death cases in Georgia vary drastically depending on the situation and the number of parties involved.
In some cases, more than one party may benefit from a wrongful death settlement. For example, if the decedent has a surviving spouse and children, their spouse may receive no less than one-third of the total settlement amount, regardless of the number of children involved.
The types of damages loved ones can seek include economic damages, which the court can measure and quantify based on records. These include payment for losses such as income and medical bills.
Families may also receive non-economic damages, which refer to subjective losses experienced by loved ones, such as loss of consortium and mental anguish.
Pursuing financial recovery on your own may be challenging, but a lawyer can assess your damages on your behalf and seek fair awards for you.
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Georgia Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims
OCGA §9-3-33 places a limit on the amount of time during which victims’ families can file wrongful death claims for the loss of their loved ones in Georgia.
According to this law, spouses, children, parents, or personal representatives of the estate typically have up to two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file their wrongful death claim against the liable party, although exceptions do apply in some cases.
A lawyer can determine how much time you have left and get started right away so you do not miss your opportunity to hold the at-fault party responsible.
Our Lawyers Can Help You File Your Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia
The process of settling an estate is difficult enough without the additional stress of managing a wrongful death claim.
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can help you by handling each step of the process for you, keeping you updated on the progress of your case, and fighting for the financial recovery you deserve.
Call our legal team today at (404) 888-8888 for a free case evaluation.