Losing a loved one is one of the most tragic events in life. And the tragedy and pain is compounded if that loss is sudden and before that person’s time. But sadly, all too many Georgia residents have experienced such losses.
You may not be aware that you might have legal recourse in the event that a spouse, child or parent dies as a consequence of someone’s actions. Georgia law allows you to file a wrongful death action if your loved one’s passing qualifies and meets all conditions.
How do Georgia’s wrongful death laws work?
First, a person’s death must be classified as a “homicide” per Georgia statute. This means a person who has died due to crime, negligence or a defective product.
Note that the offending party does not need to have been convicted of a criminal charge in order for you to be able to file a wrongful death action. Though many times there will be a criminal trial, and often times a conviction of some sort.
If your loved one’s passing qualified as a homicide, you have the right to seek compensation for the full value of the decedent’s life.
There are two other main pieces of relevant information you’ll need to know if considering legal action. The first is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death action.
Normally, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the person’s passing. However, there are two exceptions:
- If the wrongful death involves a criminal case, the statute of limitations starts at the conclusion of the criminal case.
- The decedent’s estate may go through probate. If so, the statute of limitations may pause for up to five years.
Finally, it’s important to know who has the standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If there’s a surviving spouse, they have the right to file an action. If no spouse exists, a child has the right. If no child or spouse exists, a parent has the right. And if none of the above exist, the executor of the person’s estate may file an action.
A wrongful death action can’t replace the hole in your life left by the death of a loved one. But it can give you some measure of justice and financial security.