Have you lost a loved one in Georgia due to someone’s negligence or criminal offense? It is essential to be aware of the deadlines involved with filing a claim if you are going to pursue a wrongful death case.
This article discusses the aspects you need to understand surrounding a wrongful death claim in Georgia, including what wrongful death is and the deadlines to file a claim. We will also look at who can file a wrongful death claim, what damages can be awarded, and what happens if you miss the deadline.
What Is “Wrongful Death” in Georgia?
In Georgia, wrongful death actions may encompass personal injury or criminal cases. According to Ga. Code § 51-4-1 (2021), wrongful death is the death of an individual resulting from a crime, negligence, or defectively manufactured property.
The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia
In most cases, the deadline for filing a wrongful death claim in Georgia is two years from the date of the deceased’s passing. However, there are some instances when this deadline may be extended.
One of those instances is if the death resulted from a criminal act or criminal negligence rather than negligence only. This would result in a criminal case, which could take up to six years to be completed. Once it is, the wrongful death case can move forward.
Another situation that may allow for an extended deadline is if the deceased’s estate has not gone through probate. In this case, the deadline may be extended to up to five years from their death.
If you are wondering if your case may qualify as an exception to the two-year deadline, an attorney can help you determine if it is an exceptional circumstance.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
The decedent’s surviving spouse, child, or parent is eligible to file the claim according to the following order:
If the deceased had a surviving spouse, they would be eligible to file the claim. If there is no surviving spouse, the deceased’s child (or children) would then be able to pursue the claim. If the deceased did not have children that survived them, their parent(s) would be the next eligible.
Under Georgia law, if there are none of those individuals mentioned above, the estate’s executor could file the claim.
*Note: Siblings and grandparents are not eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia.
What Damages May be Awarded in a Wrongful Death Case?
The damages awarded in a wrongful death case in Georgia can be split between two categories:
Compensation for the Full Value of the Life of the Decedent
This category includes economic damages such as loss of wages and benefits. It also includes less quantifiable damages, such as loss of companionship and counsel.
Compensation for the Financial Losses Related to the Death of the Decedent
This category includes damages awarded for expenses surrounding the deceased person’s death, such as medical expenses and funeral and burial costs.
What Happens if You Miss the Deadline for Georgia Wrongful Death Statutes?
If you decide to pursue your claim without an attorney and miss filing by the deadline, you could lose any opportunity to seek compensation for your loss. There are some cases where a judge may be lenient and extend the deadline, but you should not rely on this happening as it is not guaranteed.
Get Expert Help with Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
For some, the Georgia statute of limitations of two years may seem like a long time. Still, you shouldn’t delay in speaking with an attorney. The time can pass quickly, and hiring an attorney to take over your case can allow progress with the claim without you having to worry about it. You and your family will be able to take the time you need to grieve and begin the healing journey.
Are you a surviving family member pursuing a claim? The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Strickland and Kendall, LLC are here to advise, support, and guide you with bringing your wrongful death case before a judge. You can contact us anytime. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for a free consultation.