Losing a loved one in any type of preventable accident or in an act of violence is a devastating and life-altering experience. Yet it is important to know that, when someone dies because of another party’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, it may be possible to hold that party accountable by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Although a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring back your loved one, it can allow you to seek compensation to cover the financial costs associated with your loved one’s death, and to seek compensation for intangible losses, as well. In addition, a wrongful death claim can give you a way to hold the party accountable for causing the death of your loved one. While wrongful death cases are civil in nature, knowing that the negligent party or wrongdoer has been found civilly liable by a court can help to bring closure for you and your family.
Given this information about wrongful death lawsuits, you may be wondering about eligibility and how to file a wrongful death case. Eligibility for filing a claim in Atlanta will depend upon whether the case meets the requirements of Georgia’s wrongful death law, whether you are one of the parties identified by Georgia law who can file a lawsuit, and whether there is still time on the clock. Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys can explain in more detail.
Is the Case a Wrongful Death Under Georgia Law?
The first question concerning eligibility is whether you have a case. In other words, does the death of your loved one constitute a “wrongful death” under Georgia law such that a lawsuit is possible? While you should have an attorney in Atlanta assess your case to specifically determine whether a wrongful death claim makes sense, generally speaking, wrongful death is a death caused by a criminal act, by negligence, or by a defective product.
Are You One of the Parties Identified by the Statute?
If a wrongful death lawsuit makes sense based on the facts surrounding your loved one’s death, you will then need to determine whether you are specifically eligible to file a lawsuit or whether another party will need to be the one who files the claim. Georgia law has an order in which parties can bring wrongful death lawsuits, and that order is:
- Surviving spouse of the deceased;
- Surviving child(ren) of the deceased if there is no surviving spouse;
- Surviving parent(s) of the deceased if there is no surviving spouse and no surviving child; and
- The executor of the deceased’s estate if there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent of the deceased.
To be clear, if you are not one of the parties listed above, you cannot be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. Instead, you will need to have one of the above-listed parties be the one who actually files the wrongful death lawsuit.
Has the Statute of Limitations Run Out?
Finally, in terms of eligibility, you will need to make sure that the statute of limitations has not run out on the wrongful death claim. Georgia law requires most wrongful death lawsuits to be filed within two years from the date of the deceased’s death, but there are some exceptions in which the statute of limitations can be tolled (i.e., paused).
Contact an Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer
An experienced Atlanta wrongful death attorney can speak with you today about your eligibility to file a claim. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys online or call our firm at (404) 529-3476 for more information.