How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

people holding hands in griefWhen a person’s death is the result of another’s negligence, recklessness or intentional actions, the victim’s surviving family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party.

However, there are several laws dictating wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia, such as who may be entitled to sue the at-fault party and how long you have to file your lawsuit. For this reason, you should strongly consider contacting a wrongful death lawyer in Savannah to review your legal options.

The qualified personal injury attorneys at Roden Law have a strong understanding of Georgia’s negligence laws and who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. We will review your claim and help you determine if you may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault party.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?

In Georgia, only certain people are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent. Typically, the decedent’s surviving spouse has priority over the other surviving dependents.

In this situation, the surviving spouse must also bring the claim on behalf of the children, and is entitled to at least one-third of any award. If there is no surviving spouse, then the decedent’s children may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

However, if there is no spouse or child, the decedent’s parent can bring the claim. If the decedent does not have a surviving parent either, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the next of kin.

Compensation for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Georgia recognizes two different types of wrongful death claims, each providing different types of compensation:

Full Value of Life

The first type of claim provides compensation for the financial and non-economic losses suffered by the family as a result of the victim’s death.

This includes compensation for the financial support the decedent would have provided, such as the lost wages and benefits the decedent would have received if he or she had lived. The decedent’s value of life may be determined by several factors, including:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Earning history
  • Promotion history

The family can also recover for non-economic losses, such as the loss of care, affection and companionship the decedent provided his or her family.

Financial Losses

The second type of wrongful death claim is designed to recover financial losses related to the death. It includes compensation for the decedent’s:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Pain and suffering prior to his or her death

How Long Do I Have to File My Lawsuit?

Georgia’s statute of limitations sets a time limit on filing certain types of claims. In most Georgia wrongful death cases, the claim must be made within two years from the date of death, according to O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.

If this time limit passes, your wrongful death lawsuit will be dismissed and you can no longer pursue compensation from the at-fault party. However, the two-year statute of limitations may be extended or altered under certain circumstances.

For example, under the State Tort Claims Act, you must present your notice of claim in writing to the head of the state agency involved within 12 months. The lawsuit must be filed within not less than 90 days after you have presented your notice of claim.

In other situations, the statute of limitations may be temporarily suspended for such reasons as:

  • There is a pending criminal case dealing with the same events as the wrongful death claim
  • The deceased person’s estate is not probated
  • The surviving spouse is incapacitated

Contact Roden Law for a Free Consultation

If your loved one died due to another’s negligence, contact Roden Law to discuss your possible options for recovering compensation.

We will provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to discuss the specific circumstances surrounding your claim. Our Savannah personal injury lawyers will help you determine which party may be at-fault for your loved one’s death and whether you may have a case.

All of our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no upfront legal fees if we represent your claim. Our attorneys only get paid if we help you recover compensation.