How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?

elderly death

Losing a family member or someone else that you care about is always a challenging and stressful experience. This can be made even more difficult if they died due to the negligence or intent of another person or organization. If this occurs, you should consider pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit and claim. There is a lot to know and understand about wrongful death lawsuits in the state of Georgia before you start the process of filing one. This includes what can constitute wrongful death, when you need to file a lawsuit, and what potential damages can be recovered. 

What is Considered Wrongful Death in Georgia

The law of what constitutes wrongful death in the state of Georgia is similar to the definition in other states. In this state, wrongful death can be classified as one in which a person died as the result of a mistake, negligence, or intent caused by another person or party. Some common examples of wrongful death claims include medical malpractice, death as a result of a defective product, or a vehicle or other type of accident. As these are civil lawsuits, a plaintiff will need to prove that the defendant was more likely than not at fault for the accident. 

How Long Does Someone Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If you believe that you have a legitimate wrongful death claim, it is important to file it on time. Similar to most other states, Georgia does have a statute of limitations for when a wrongful death case can be brought to court. In most situations, the standard statute of limitations is two years from the time that the person passed away. However, there are other factors that can influence this.

  • Criminal Case and Investigation — If the cause of death also resulted in criminal charges, the statute of limitations is extended. The statute of limitations is then extended to two years after the date in which the criminal case is finally resolved. There is a suspension of the statute of limitations cannot be extended to more than six years from the date of death. 
  • Estate is Not Probated — If the individual’s estate is not properly probated after death, it can extend the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations can be extended up to a total of five years from the person’s death if probate did not take place. 

Who Can Benefit from a Wrongful Death Claim and What are Potential Damages?

The individuals that can file a wrongful death claim are limited to those that are directly related and connected to the deceased. There is a direct order in terms of priority based on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The order of priority starts with a surviving spouse. If the deceased was not married, any children may file a claim. If they did not have children, the deceased’s parents may file a claim. Finally, if they did not have any surviving children or parents, the administrator of the deceased’s estate may file a lawsuit. The law in Georgia does not permit friends or other family to file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

The amount of damages that can be awarded during a lawsuit can vary from one person to the next and are based on an actuarial process. The assessment will factor in lost wages that the person could have earned, value of lost companionship and costs directly tied to the death including medical expenses incurred while in recovery following an accident and burial and funeral costs. It is important to have all necessary documentation available to help support your damages claim. 

A wrongful death claim can be a very complicated legal proceeding. If someone you loved passed away due to the negligence of another party, you should speak with the team at The Stoddard Firm. The legal professionals with The Stoddard Firm can provide the guidance and support that you need to understand whether you have a valid wrongful death claim. They can then provide a full consultation and any legal support you need to receive what you are entitled to and to ensure your rights are represented.