Understanding Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Georgia

In Georgia a wrongful death is caused by the reckless or intentional negligent conduct of a person or company. When someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence, that family of the deceased can file an action in court claiming wrongful death and asking for damages. Wrongful death claims may not only be made against persons but also organizations, such as a business.

A wrongful death may be caused by many factors, such as:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective products
  • Crime, such as homicide or manslaughter
  • Drunk driving or drug-related accident
  • Elder abuse
  • Work-related accident
  • Auto, truck, or other vehicle-related accident, including pedestrians, airplanes, boats, and bicycles

When someone dies is a loss suffered by many who knew the deceased, but not just anyone can sue for wrongful death. Someone interested in filing legal action must have what is called standing to sue. Georgia law states that in wrongful death claims, recovery is limited specifically to surviving family members; which means only surviving family members have the right to sue.

Wrongful death may claimed by three different persons or groups:

  1. Surviving spouse or children
  2. Parents
  3. Decedent’s personal estate representative

In this table we indicate which members of the family may sue after the death of certain persons.

Relationship to the decedent Who can sue
Wife or husband Surviving spouse
Mother or father Surviving children, if there is not a surviving spouse
Sister or brother Only permitted to sue via estate
Child Surviving parents, if there is not a surviving spouse; or if the child died as the result of homicide
Grandparent Not permitted to sue

A brother or sister of the decedent who has no surviving spouse or children or parents can bring a claim, but it must be brought by the representative of the decedent’s estate.

An estate claim

A decedent’s representative can file a wrongful death claim for the benefit of the next of kin, which could be a sibling or a parent. administrator or executor of the decedent may bring an action for and may recover and hold the amount recovered for the benefit of the next of kin. The amount recovered will be the full value of the life of the decedent.

When the death resulted from a crime or criminal or other negligence, the representative can recover for all expenses associated with the injury and death of the deceased. This includes medical expenses, funeral expenses and any other out of pocket expenses necessitated by the injury and death. The estate may also claim for the pain and suffering the deceased experienced when he or she was injured directly before death.

The Angell Law Firm is experts in personal injury law, the only kind of case the firm handles. If you have lost a loved due to someone else’s negligence or commission of a crime such as homicide, call (770) 217-4954 today for a free consultation with an Angell attorney, who will advise you on your qualification to sue for wrongful death or assist you in directing the estate representative to file a legal action on your behalf. The Angell Law Firm is located in Atlanta and serves Chatham County, including Savannah; Clarke County including Athens; Cobb County, including Marietta; DeKalb County, including Decatur and Stone Mountain; Fulton County, including Atlanta, College Park, and Roswell; Gwinnett County including Buford, Lawrenceville, and Norcross; and Oconee County, including Watkinsville.