If someone loses their life due to a preventable accident that was someone else’s fault or another party’s intentional act in Georgia, surviving family members could seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. Georgia’s wrongful death law establishes the legal requirements for bringing a wrongful death claim in Georgia, including who can file the claim, what types of damages can be recovered, and the statute of limitations. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s wrongful actions, we at Butler Kahn are very sorry for your loss, and our heart goes out to you during this difficult time. We hope the information on this page provides useful information to you and your family as you consider your legal options for seeking a measure of justice for your deceased family member.
What Are the Leading Causes of Wrongful Death?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for people ages 1-44 in the United States. Two of the leading causes of unintentional injury leading to death, according to the agency’s data, include:
- Motor vehicle accidents – 40,698 for one recent year, or 12.4 deaths per 100,000 population
- Unintentional falls – 42,114 for one recent year, or 12.8 deaths per 100,000 population
Overall, the leading causes of unintentional injuries and death in the U.S. include:
- Motor vehicle accidents – Crashes are a common cause of unintentional injury and death. They can be caused by various factors, including distracted driving, reckless driving, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example.
- Falls – Falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury, particularly among older adults. They can occur in the home, the workplace, or other public spaces.
- Poisoning – Poisoning is a leading cause of unintentional injury and death, particularly from drug overdoses. It can also be caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or gases.
- Drowning – Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury and death, particularly among children and young adults. Property owners could be liable for a drowning death if they failed to secure the pool, for example.
- Fires and burns – Fires and burns are a leading cause of unintentional injury and death. They could be caused by a motor vehicle accident, defective product, explosion, or other causes.
- Crime – Criminal activity results in a growing number of deaths in the United States. In some cases, a property owner or business operator could be held liable for failing to provide adequate security.
- Defective products – Companies that design, manufacture, and sell dangerously defective products could be liable when the product takes the life of someone using it or near where it is in use.
- Suffocation – Suffocation is a serious issue for infants and young children. Defective children’s products are a common cause of suffocation.
- Pedestrian accidents – Pedestrian accidents can occur when a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian while walking on the street, sidewalk, parking lot, crosswalk, or elsewhere.
- Bicycle accidents – Bicycle accidents frequently occur when a negligent driver hits a bicyclist or when the cyclist loses control of the bike.
- Sports and recreational activities – Sports and recreational activities are particularly prevalent among children and young adults. Fatal injuries can occur when swimming, biking, and playing contact sports.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?
Georgia law does not allow just anyone to file a wrongful death action. The right to take action is limited to particular individuals, including:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased
- The surviving children
- The surviving parents
- The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
If you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s crucial to remember that the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Georgia is two years from the date of the person’s death. If you fail to file within this time frame, the court will likely dismiss your case. The statute of limitations might be different in certain circumstances, such as if a government entity caused the death or if the person who died was a minor. That’s why it’s crucial to talk to an experienced wrongful death attorney to make sure your claim isn’t time-barred.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered Through a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Surviving family members could be eligible to seek compensation from the at-fault party for:
- Final medical expenses
- Pain and suffering before death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income and benefits
- Loss of companionship and support
- Punitive damages
How Are Proceeds Distributed in a Wrongful Death Case?
In Georgia, the proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit will be distributed to the surviving family members according to the state’s laws on inheritance and distribution. That means the proceeds are distributed to the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased person in that order. If the deceased person did not have a spouse, children, or parents, the proceeds would go to the estate and be distributed according to the will or the state’s laws of intestate succession.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Action and a Survival Action?
Wrongful death and survival actions can be brought if someone is killed in an accident or due to an intentional act, but they are separate legal claims that serve different purposes. The surviving family members could bring a wrongful death action if their loved one was killed due to another person or party’s negligent or intentional conduct. Wrongful death actions are designed to compensate surviving family members for the losses they suffer due to the person’s death, like the loss of income and companionship. A survival action is a legal action brought on behalf of the deceased person’s estate by the personal representative. It is designed to compensate the estate for medical expenses, pain, suffering, and loss of future earnings. In some states, you can combine wrongful death and survival actions into one lawsuit, but in Georgia, they are two separate legal actions.
Contact a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you are reading this page because you lost a loved one in an accident, we at Butler Kahn are truly sorry for your loss. We hope the information on this page has been helpful, and if you’d like to talk with us about your situation, call us or contact us online. There is no charge to speak with one of our experienced and compassionate Georgia wrongful death lawyers about your case.