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4 Things You Should Know About Wrongful Death

The term “wrongful death” can be confusing. You may think that any unexpected death can be considered wrongful, but that’s not actually the case.

Here are four things you should know about wrongful death:

#1 - A death is wrongful if another person or entity’s negligence caused it.

According to Georgia state law, wrongful death is defined as the death of a person caused by the “negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal” actions of another person or entity.

Negligence is commonly defined as a failure to act with reasonable care when there is a duty to do so, which results in harm to another.

#2 - Not just anyone can file a lawsuit for wrongful death.

It may seem frustrating, but there are only a few select relatives of the decedent that have the ability to file suit for wrongful death.

Only the surviving spouse and/or the decedent’s children have the power to file suit for wrongful death. It’s important to keep in mind that the decedent’s spouse must receive at least one-third of the total recovery, regardless of how many children there are.

If the decedent had no surviving spouse or children to file suit, then the following parties have the opportunity to do so:

  • The surviving parent or parents of the decedent, or
  • The personal representative of the decedent’s estate.

If the claim is filed by the personal representative, then any damages recovered will go to the estate for the benefit of the decedent’s next of kin.

#3 - There are two different types of wrongful death claims in Georgia.

Full Value of the Life of the Deceased

This type of claim is submitted by or on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family members. Monetary damages associated with the financial and non-monetary value of the decedent’s life, including:

  • Lost wages and benefits, including money the decedent may have reasonably earned if he or she had lived, and
  • Lost care, companionship, and other intangible benefits the decedent provided to loved ones.

Remedy Financial Losses Related to the Death

This kind of claim is designed to remedy the financial losses related to the decedent’s passing. The decedent’s estate will submit this type of claim in order to recover the losses to the estate as a result of the wrongful death. The following damages can be recovered with this type of claim:

  • Medical costs associated with the decedent’s last illness or injury,
  • Funeral and burial expenses, and
  • Conscious pain and suffering that the decedent endured before passing.

#4 - Georgia imposes a time limit for submitting a wrongful death claim.

The time limit, referred to as the statute of limitations, for a wrongful death claim in Georgia is two years from the date of the death. This means if you wait more than two years to file a claim, you lose your opportunity to file a lawsuit and collect damages.

However, it’s wise to keep in mind that the two-year clock can pause under certain circumstances. Particularly if there is a criminal case in court dealing with the same events as the wrongful death suit, then the statute of limitations on the wrongful death case is delayed until the criminal case has concluded. The time limit for wrongful death resumes once the criminal case is finished.

Additionally, Georgia state law permits the statute of limitations to be halted for up to five years if the decedent’s estate is not probated. Sometimes, this can mean that a wrongful death claim may be submitted up to seven years after the decedent’s passing.

If your loved one lost their life as a result of another’s negligence, you may be owed compensation. It’s critical that you don’t wait on an issue like this. Don’t hesitate to contact our team right away with any questions you may have.

Call The Abrego Law Firm, LLC today at (404) 334-3324 to speak with our accomplished attorney about your case.