When a person’s negligence causes the death of another person, the family of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death suit against the negligent party. The damages awarded in a successful lawsuit can help cover funeral expenses, medical expenses, loss of income and other costs related to the loss of a loved one. Many wrongful death claims stem from motor vehicle accidents caused by negligent drivers.
Who can bring a wrongful death suit?
Not all loved ones of the deceased (the decedent) can file a wrongful death suit. Under Georgia law, the surviving spouse of the decedent is the first person eligible to file a wrongful death claim, followed by the surviving children (if no surviving spouse), the surviving parents (if no surviving spouse or children), and the administrator or executor of the estate (if no surviving spouse, children, or parents), in that order.
Filing a wrongful death claim in Georgia
Under Georgia’s statute of limitations, you must file your wrongful death claim within two years of the decedent’s death. Your claim will likely be based on the theory of negligence. You will need to prove the following:
- The decedent passed away
- The decedent’s death was caused by the accident
- The accident was caused by another party’s negligence
Generally, if the negligent party was the driver of another vehicle, you will have to show that they were violating a traffic law at the time of the accident. Speeding, running a stop sign, failing to yield, or driving while impaired are all common forms of driver negligence. The owner of the vehicle can also be liable for negligently entrusting their vehicle to the negligent driver.
If your loved one passed away in a crash, a personal injury attorney can review the facts and help you determine whether pursuing a wrongful death claim is right for you.