Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits filed after someone loses their life due to an accident, injury, or illness caused by a third party’s negligence. The damages sought in a wrongful death claim are meant to help surviving family members deal with both the financial and emotional loss caused by the person’s passing.
Not everyone can file a wrongful death claim, though. In fact, each state has specific rules that outline who can file and what sort of damages they can demand in their filing. How does Georgia law decide who is eligible to file?
Two Parties Get Priority
In Georgia, two parties get priority for filing a wrongful death claim:
- Spouse: Only one wrongful death claim can be filed when someone passes away, and any surviving spouse has the priority right to file first.
- Children: If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving children, then priority filing is passed to them.
When there are no surviving spouses or children, the right to file a wrongful death claim for the deceased moves to any surviving parents. If there are no spouses, children, or parents, then a representative of the deceased person’s estate can file, such as whoever is named as an estate administrator.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
A successful wrongful death claim can pursue a variety of damages. Most claims will include the cost of final medical care given to the deceased person at the end of their life, such as emergency room care and hospitalization. The cost associated with a funeral, burial, and other final rites can also be demanded through a wrongful death claim.
In some claims, the claimant can also demand compensation for not only their pain and suffering but also that experienced by the deceased person. Noneconomic damages of this sort often provide the most significant payout since losing a loved one causes an understandably intense amount of emotional trauma.
There are two specific rules in Georgia to consider about damages in a wrongful death claim:
- When a spouse is filing the claim, they must act in the best interest of their minor children if they share any with the deceased person. This legal expectation can alter how a claim is handled and how any damages are used.
- No matter how many minor children are shared between the filing spouse and their children, no more than two-thirds of the damages can go to the children.
Legal Help for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
If you’re not sure if you should – or even legally can – file a wrongful death claim after losing a loved one, then reaching out to a trustworthy law firm should be your next step. Using the insight and experience of a wrongful death attorney, you can take the guesswork out of your claim right from the beginning. You can also free up your time to focus on grieving and being with your family, rather than trying to juggle legal responsibilities.
People in Atlanta and the surrounding region can count on Pratt Clay, LLC for reliable representation and compassionate moral support when filing a wrongful death claim. We have decades of collective legal experience to put to good use on your behalf. Call us at 404-566-9460 to arrange a consultation today.