Wrongful Death Claim: Who Is Qualified To File One?

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Losing a loved one to wrongful death is always hard. If your spouse or child was dealing with a terminal illness, you may have had time to come to terms with their death. It is quite different when your family member or friend is killed in an accident. Getting this kind of news can be surreal. Your loved one was with you one day and then gone in an instant. If the person responsible for their death was acting recklessly or intentionally at the time of the accident, you may have a legal claim. Our Marietta wrongful death lawyers can explain how this type of law works in Georgia. We can also let you know if you are legally able to sue on behalf of the victim.

Here, we will briefly discuss which parties have standing to sue for wrongful death in Georgia. We will also explain what types of damages you can demand in your lawsuit. If you still have questions about your own family tragedy, contact our office right away. We can schedule a date and time for you to come into the office. That will give us a cane to review your case and answer any questions you may have.

Not Everybody Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia

Every state has its own laws when it comes to wrongful death. Georgia is no different. There are laws that define what wrongful death is. There are also statutes that outline who is allowed to sue for wrongful death in Georgia.

While only a handful of people are able to sue for wrongful death in Georgia, the laws here are more generous than they are in other states. Some states only allow the personal representative of the victim’s estate to file legal action on their behalf. Others only allow the decedent’s spouse to sue. In Georgia, the following individuals have standing to sue for wrongful death:

  • Decedent’s spouse – As long as the victim’s spouse is still alive, they will have the ultimate say in whether to sue for wrongful death. Even if the victim had children and living parents, they can only make this decision if there is no spouse. If the spouse decides not to sue, there is nothing anybody else can do about it.
  • Victim’s Children – If there is no surviving spouse, then the victim’s children will make the decision of whether to sue. All it takes is one child. If the other children don’t want to pursue legal action, it doesn’t matter.
  • The decedent’s parents – If there is no spouse and no children, only then can the victim’s parents file suit. These cases are rare. Usually, there is somebody else alive with the power to file suit under the wrongful death statute.
  • Personal Representative – If nobody else is able or willing to file suit, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate has the power to sue. Any damages received through legal action will be distributed amongst the deceased victim’s family.

What if the Victim’s Spouse Doesn’t Want to File Suit?

It may seem like a lot of power is placed in the hands of one person. However, in Georgia, the spouse has the final say when it comes to filing suit. Our Marietta wrongful death lawyers have met with many children of accident victims who want to file suit. However, their surviving parent refuses to. Maybe they don’t want to mar their loved one’s memory. Or they just don’t have it in them to get embroiled in legal action. Whatever the reasons, the surviving spouse does get to decide whether suit is filed.

Who Will Your Marietta Wrongful Death Lawyer Pursue for Damages?

Once you have decided to suit, it will be up to your Marietta wrongful death lawyer to get damages. In most wrongful death cases, our attorneys demand the following types of damages:

  • Reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses
  • Any medical bills incurred by the decedent immediately after their accident
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the accident victim
  • Damages for loss of consortium and companionship
  • Damages for any future income or investments the victim would have provided to their family

It’s important to take note – the surviving spouse or children cannot sue for their own pain and suffering. It is very rare that a family member can demand this type of damages. There are limited cases where the surviving family member witnessed their loved one’s death. In these cases, the family member may be entitled to damages for emotional distress. However, they would be to be sought in a separate lawsuit.

Once your personal injury attorney in Georgia has a chance to prepare your complaint, you can look to see what damages they are demanding. If you feel there are other damages you are entitled to, let them know. You want to get it right the first time so you don’t have to file an amended complaint down the road.

Reach Out to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Georgia

If your loved one was killed in a tragic accident, you need time to grieve. The last thing you’ll be thinking about is suing the person responsible for their death. However, if somebody else caused their death, they need to be held accountable. The best way to do this is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney in Georgia. They’ll handle the legal side of things so you and your family can take the time you need to come to terms with your loss.

Our Marietta wrongful death lawyers have helped many families get justice for their loved one. We suggest you call the office and schedule your free, initial consultation. If you aren’t sure whether you have standing to sue, let us know. We can review your information and let you know which family members are eligible to file a wrongful death claim.

Since our initial consultation is free, you have nothing to lose. The last thing you should be doing right now is fighting with lawyers and insurance adjusters. Let us do this for you. That way, you can spend this time properly grieving the loss of your loved one.