When tragedy strikes and someone dies as a result of someone else’s negligent actions, it impacts the victim’s whole family. The victim could leave behind a spouse, children, parents, siblings and other family members.
In addition, there might have been other people who depended upon the victim for financial support, such as foster children, stepchildren or even non-relatives who lived with them. How does Georgia law determine who out of all these people is allowed to bring a wrongful death suit against the negligent party?
The order for the right to sue
Georgia law sets out a specific order for who can bring a wrongful death claim. The order depends upon the person’s relationship to the victim, with closer relations having priority over more distant ones.
The first person who can bring a wrongful death suit is the victim’s spouse. If the victim had no spouse, then the right to sue passes to any of the victim’s surviving children. The children can also gain the right to continue their parent’s wrongful death suit if their parent (the spouse of the victim) dies while in the middle of the suit.
The order for recovery
Georgia law also determines how the court must divide the recovery if the wrongful death suit is successful. The law entitles the victim’s spouse to at least one-third of the recovery. The remaining amount of the recovery will go to the victim’s children – alive and dead – in equal parts, if there are any. If the victim has a deceased child, that child’s children and grandchildren can take in their place.
There is nothing you can receive that will fully make up for the emotional pain that comes from the death of your loved one. But a successful wrongful death suit can help you to alleviate some of the financial strain that comes from losing the person that you depended on for financial support.