If you are not familiar with wrongful death laws they can be complicated at the very least. Atlanta personal injury law firm, Dressie Law, understands and offers a FAQ section to answer all your questions.

Frequently Asked Car Wrongful Death Questions

Wrongful Death FAQ’s

What is a wrongful death claim?

According to Georgia law, a death is considered wrongful if it was caused by another person or entity’s negligence or misconduct.

The person or business responsible for the wrongful death may not necessarily face criminal charges, but they may still be held responsible for their actions in a civil court case.

Examples of wrongful death cases include:

  • Car accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective products
  • Premises liability accidents
  • Offshore accidents
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents

Wrongful death claims are usually filed by surviving family members looking to be compensated for their loved ones’ untimely and preventable passing.

Who can bring a wrongful death claim in Georgia?

In the case of a wrongful death, Georgia law permits the following people to file a wrongful death claim:

  1. A surviving husband or wife
  2. If the decedent was unmarried, any one of the decedent’s children 
  3. If the decedent was unmarried and had no children, Georgia law permits their parents to bring the claim
  4. If the decedent had no surviving spouse, children or parents at the time of death, the administrator of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim
Who gets compensated in a Georgia wrongful death claim?

In Georgia, the decedent’s surviving spouse and children are entitled to the recovery, and each person gets an equal share. If the child is a minor, his or her legal guardian will handle the share until they turn 18.

In the case of no surviving spouse or children, the victim’s parents will receive the money and share it equally. However, if said parents are divorced or living apart, they can ask a judge to determine who gets how much unless they can come to a mutually satisfying agreement. 

If a wrongful death claim is brought by an estate administrator, the money is paid out according to the victim’s last will.

Under Georgia’s intestacy law, if someone died without a will, any wrongful death proceeds should go to surviving family members or the state (in case there are no surviving relatives).

If the decedent caused their own death, can I still pursue a wrongful death claim?

Family members of the decedent cannot file a wrongful death claim if their loved one caused their own death. A claim can only be brought if the victim died because of someone else’s negligence.

For instance, if someone is injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, they have a right to file a personal injury claim. If the injured driver succumbs to their injuries, the family steps in and files a wrongful death claim on their behalf. The purpose here is twofold—to compensate the surviving family for the death of their loved one and to punish the defendant for their negligence.

Can I bring a wrongful death claim if my deceased loved one didn’t have a will?

Yes, you can. When you file a wrongful death case, it makes no difference whether the victim had a will. This is because a will pertains to the dissolution of the decedent’s estate, such as real estate, jewelry and stocks and bonds. Money received in a wrongful death judgment is paid by the person or entity who caused the death.

Your name doesn’t have to be included in the victim’s will to file a wrongful death claim. As long as you’re their surviving spouse, child, parent or estate administrator, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim.

What damages are available in a wrongful death case in Georgia?

In Georgia, surviving family members are entitled to wrongful death compensation based on the decedent’s full value of life. In other words, had the victim not died, how much would their life be worth?

Full value of life can be broken down into two categories: intangible value of life and economic value of life. Intangible value of life pertains to things the decedent and their loved ones won’t get to experience due to their untimely passing. Examples include:

  • Quality time spent with family and friends
  • Graduating from college
  • Getting married
  • Having children and grandchildren
  • Enjoying retirement

Economic value of life pertains to the decedent’s unrealized earning potential; in other words, the money they would have earned had they not lost their life.

What is an estate claim?

In addition to a wrongful death claim, a deceased victim’s family members can also file an estate claim. The damages available in an estate claim are significantly different from those awarded in a wrongful death case. 

Examples of damages family members can recover in an estate claim include pain and suffering the decedent endured before passing away, as well as any medical and funeral expenses resulting from the victim’s untimely passing.

How much time do I have to bring a wrongful death claim?

Under Georgia’s statute of limitations, surviving family members have two years following their loved one’s passing to file a wrongful death claim.

If you are the decedent’s spouse, you can also file a loss of consortium claim, meaning you can seek compensation for the loss of your marriage and everything it entailed (intimacy, companionship, care).

In Georgia, a loss of consortium claim must be filed within four years of the decedent’s passing. 

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