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Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

According to Georgia Code § 51-4-1, wrongful death happens in “all cases in which the death of a human being results from a crime, from criminal or other negligence, or from property which has been defectively manufactured, whether or not as the result of negligence.”

That is to say that a wrongful death occurs when someone loses their life due to the legal fault of another individual or entity.

Wrongful death typically occurs as a result of:

  • A negligence-based incident
  • Medical malpractice
  • A defective product
  • An intentional act

If someone in your life experienced a wrongful death, you may wonder who can file suit and where the money will go if a settlement is awarded. You’ve come to the right place to find out.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia

According to Georgia state law, only the following people in relation to the decedent may file suit:

  • The decedent’s surviving spouse,
  • If no surviving spouse exists, the decedent’s surviving child or children,
  • If no spouse or children exist, the decedent’s parent or parents, or
  • If no spouse, children, or parents exist, the executor of the decedent’s estate.

Unfortunately, if you are a sibling, grandparent, or any other family member of the decedent, Georgia law does not allow you to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the executor files suit, the recovered damages will go toward the estate to benefit the decedent’s next of kin.

Who Gets the Money in a Georgia Wrongful Death Case

If the decedent has a surviving spouse, he or she will receive no less than one-third of the settlement money, no matter how many children are involved. However, the distribution of the estate’s remaining value will depend on several factors, including:

  • Age of the Beneficiaries
    • Children 18 years and younger are not legally allowed to inherit or receive compensation for a wrongful death case. As a result, the courts will take the children’s financial well-being into consideration by appointing a guardian ad litem to supervise the compensation, initiate a trust, and manage the trust until the child can legally obtain the compensation. If all parties are adults, their lawyers will determine the fair value of each party.
  • Beneficiaries’ Legal Capacity
    • If certain beneficiaries suffer conditions such as Alzheimer’s or are permanently disabled, the compensation is dealt with as if the person were a minor child.
  • Balances Owed
    • If the decedent has any liens against the estate, then they must be satisfied before the remainder of the compensation can be released.

If your loved one died as a result of another’s negligence, you may be owed compensation. Let our team see if we can help you recover it.

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